I am in my 5th year of the Ph.D. program in the KU's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Our lab also makes up the Parasitology Division in the Biodiversity Institute. My academic background and training started in parasite taxonomy of intestinal protozoan parasites of insects. When deciding to pursue a doctoral program, I chose KU because of the opportunity to switch to a new parasite system (the cestodes) but continue my passion for discovery and description of new species.
For full CV please contact me via email.
My research interests broadly encompass parasite diversity, taxonomy, and systematics, in particular that of the elasmobranch tapeworm order, Lecanicephalidea (Platyhelminthes: Eucestoda). Currently, my research focuses on reevaluating the validity and reestablishment of several lecanicephalidean genera recognized as genera inquirenda. These tapeworms are parasites of batoids (rays). Most of these tapeworms were originally described from Indo-Pacific waters nearly a centuary ago and have not been reported since. This body of work uses a combined approach with a variety of morphological and molecular techniques. The morphological component of this work involves the recollection and re-identification of questionable genera (and species) and subsequent redescriptions of these, alongside descriptions of new species of these genera. Morphological techniques include the use of light, scanning electron, and transmission electron microscopy as well as histology. The phylogenetic relationships of these taxa are being evaluated in a molecular context to determine familial constituency. The variety of microscopy techniques being implemented allows for discovery of potential morphological synapomorphies, thus providing further support for evolutionary relationships of these taxa. This research lends itself well for addressing broader questions involving character evolution, host-parasite relationships (i.e., co-evolution, co-phylogeny), host-specificity, and parasite life-cycles and life-strategies.
Ph.D. (candidate)—Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas
M.S. (2006-2008)—Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, Sam Houston State University
Thesis title: A biogeographical study of gregarines (Apicomplexa: Eugregarinorida) parasitizing Argia spp. (Odonata: Coenagrionidae)
B.S. (2003-2006)—Natural Sciences Magna Cum Laude, Department of Natural Science, Peru State College
American Society of Parasitologists
The Helminthological Society of Washington
Southwestern Association of Parasitologists
2011-2013 National Science Foundation: Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, Toward resolving lecanicephalidean familial relationships using morphology and molecules ($14,555)
2012, Southwestern Association of Parasitologists, Graduate Student Honorable Mention, Best Student Paper Presentation ($100)
2011, Southwestern Association of Parasitologists, Becker Award for Best Student Paper Presentation ($300)
2010, American Society of Parasitologists, Honorable Mention-Best Student Paper Competition
2010, American Society of Parasitologists, Marc Dresden Student Travel Grant ($250)
2010, Southwestern Association of Parasitologists, Becker Award for Best Student Paper Presentation ($150)
2009, Alpha Omicron Phi Scholarship ($1100)
2009, Southwestern Association of Parasitologists, Graduate Student Honorable Mention, Best Student Paper Presentation ($100)
2009, University of Kansas, Ida H. Hyde Scholarship ($2500)
2008, Southwestern Association of Parasitologists, Graduate Student Honorable Mention, Best Student Paper Presentation ($100)
2007, Sam Houston State University, Joey Harrison Biological Sciences Student Research Award ($500)
2007, Texas Academy of Science, Graduate Student Research Grant, First Place ($1000)
2007 Alpha Chi National College Honor Scholarship Society, Joseph E. Pryor Alumni Fellowship, Alternate ($100)