I am an ecologist with particular interest in applying theories and tools from population ecology to conservation issues, such as the impacts of introduced species and recovery of endangered species.
As an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary, I studied animal behavior with John Swaddle. My first research project was an experiment to test the importance of symmetry preference in sexual selection. I then worked on an urban ecology study in which we measured the fitness consequences of golf course habitats for eastern bluebirds.
I continued to study ecology at the University of Maryland, College Park through its program in Behavior, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. My dissertation research looked at the potential ecological impacts of using plants that hyperaccumulate heavy metals for mine remediation. I studied the zinc and cadmium hyperaccumulator Noccaea (formerly Thlaspi) caerulescens, performing greenhouse and field experiments to look at plant-herbivore interactions and inter- and intra-specific competition. My fieldwork was conducted at abandoned mines near the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. My interest in population modeling also led to a study on the demography of a long-lived, mast-seeding monocarpic plant using a longterm dataset collected by my Ph.D. advisor, David Inouye.
As a postdoctoral fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, I worked with Maile Neel to focus on improving endangered species recovery. Using a database of the recovery plans for all species listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, we worked to quantify how species traits, historical and current abundances, and anthropogenic threats interact and contribute to species decline. We also worked to develop methods for evaluating species status when demographic data are limiting, which is the case for the majority of listed species.
I am currently with the Conservation and Science department at Lincoln Park Zoo, continuing to focus on improving the use of science to conserve and manage threatened species.
Details on these projects can be found on individual project pages.