I am a PhD. candidate here. My dissertation research focuses on using ecological niche modeling to investigate the historical and future effects of climate change on the evolutionary history of cods.
I have worked as a graduate teaching assistant for labs and lectures, as well as a research assistant both in labs and in the field. Lab work has ranged from efforts to describe new species of shark tapeworms to predicting the potential range expansions of agricultural pests and disease vectors. I have done field work assessing biodiversity of a number of organismal groups, including plants, pollinators, birds, and parasites. This work has been conducted everywhere from the grasslands of Kansas to the Gulf Coast to the arid highlands of Peru to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. I have also done research on, and experienced firsthand, the effects of climate change in Mexico and Greenland.
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My dissertation focuses primarily on the relationship between gadine fishes, fisheries, and climate change.
The family Gadinae, a clade that includes such economically important species as the Atlantic cod Gadus morhua and haddock Merlangius aeglefinus, has an uncertain future. The subarctic and arctic, where these fish occur, rank among those regions projected to be most vulnerable to climate-change-induced ecosystem shifts. Understanding the biogeographic history of the clade is key to understanding potential range responses of these species to climate change. Fortunately, a rich body of genetic and geographic data is available for this group, making it an ideal system to develop a comprehensive ecological and evolutionary context in which to understand the biogeography of these species.
2009-Present Ph.D. Candidate – Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Thesis Advisor: Edward O. Wiley, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas; Lawrence, KS
2008 M. A. – Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Thesis Advisor: Kirsten Jensen, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas;
2006 B. S. – University Honors in Biodiversity, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas; Lawrence, KS
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 2010-present
2011 Second Place Presentation, University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute Graduate Student Organization Annual Retreat
2010 Third Place Presentation, University of Kansas 9th Annual GIS Day
2010 First Place Presentation, University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute Graduate Student Organization Annual Retreat
2010 Michael S. Gaines Award for Excellence in Teaching, Principles of Biology Laboratory
2009‐pres NSF IGERT Fellow
Like any good ichthyologist, I keep saltwater fish. When I lost a Banggai cardinalfish recently, how did I deal with this tragedy? Not by flushing it or starting a pet cemetery, but by turning that loss into a gain for the Biodiversity Institute's Ichthyology collection.
It is true that aquarium fish make less than ideal specimens. It is impossible to get accurate, reliable information on the natural habitat, behavior, distribution, and population structure of such a specimen. However, for large-scale genetic studies, a specimen without such data can still provide valuable insight into the evolutionary relationships among fish species. Likewise, we can gain important morphological information to further inform our ideas on the evolution of structures like jaws and tails.
So how does a fish reach scientific immortality after passing on to the great aquarium in the sky? First, and not surprisingly, it's important to get the fish into the freezer as soon as possible to keep it from decomposing (genetic material starts to break down quickly as the fish decomposes). When we are ready to process the fish, we first take photos of it, since preservation often causes bright colors and patterns to fade. Then a small piece of muscle is taken from one side and added to our tissue collection--this leaves the other side of the fish intact for morphological studies. We then inject the fish with formalin and store it in alcohol, or clear and stain it.
While at first blush this may seem perverse, my cardinalfish now lives on as frozen tissue and fluid specimens, where it will provide valuable genetic and morphological information for researchers and students. I know I would much prefer that to being flushed.
From the Biodiversity Insitute blog
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