Biology has fascinated me ever since I first studied brine shrimp through a microscope in the fourth grade and wondered how they survive in salt water. This initial curiosity developed into a strong passion for diverse fields in biology and an appreciation for the process and rewards of scientific discovery. I continuously seek to broaden and deepen my knowledge in ecology and evolutionary biology in order to prepare for a variety of research settings.
During my undergraduate education at UCLA, classes in genetics, vertebrate biology, ecology, and evolution strengthened my conceptual framework for conducting active research. I participated in UCLA’s Field Biology Quarter (FBQ), a research-intensive exercise that requires students to design an experiment, travel to the field to gather data, and perform in-depth analyses. This FBQ had a profound effect on my research interests because it emphasized the value of field work. I was drawn to using molecular genetics to study the ecology and evolution of organisms, so in the fall of 2006 I joined Dr. Robert Wayne’s laboratory in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I graduated in 2007 with honors from UCLA, with a B.S. in Biology. I continued to work with Dr. Wayne throughout the next year.
In the fall of 2008, I began my Ph.D. studies under the guidance of Dr. Wayne. I learned that many canid species show novel adaptations to their environment, and that many genetic resources designed for use in the well-studied domestic dog are applicable to wolves given the species’ close evolutionary relationship. I was supported by a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. My dissertation, completed in June 2015, focused on understanding population differentiation in North American gray wolves, especially how environmental factors influence local adaptation among their populations.
As of May 2016, I am a NSF Postdoctoral Fellow working with Dr. Zac Cheviron in the Division of BIological Sciences at the University of Montana. I will be exploring high-altitude adaptation in deer mice and understanding the evolution of metabolic networks.