PhD student, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
As a molecular ecologist, I use advanced genomics techniques to understand the threats to global biodiversity and to promote
ecosystem conservation. Broadly, I am interested in the adaptive significance of phenotypic variation in small, isolated, and
declining populations, particularly with regards to disease susceptibility/resistance. My dissertation will focus on the effects
of disease-induced selective pressures on underlying genetic patterns in two endangered species: the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus
harrisii) and the Catalina Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis catalinae). To understand these evolutionary dynamics,
I plan to use a variety of techniques ranging from RAD sequencing and transcriptomics. These two systems provide a unique
opportunity to explore techniques in genetic mining of deleterious mutations, as well as to answer questions about the genetic
consequences of population bottlenecks overtime. I hope my findings will help guide future management actions to ensure the
survival of these species threatened with cancer.
Before entering this PhD program, I studied the cryptic population structure of red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) along the Pacific coast, and the genetic continuity of modern and historic wolves along the western United States, which directly contributed to wildlife conservation and management as well as informed local law enforcement efforts. I received my master’s degree at San Francisco State University, where my thesis work focused on the coevolution of parasitic quill mites and their avian hosts and aided in the discovery of several species previously unknown to science.
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