Before coming to Penn State, I obtained my BA (Biological Sciences) from U. Chicago and my PhD (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Minor in Applied Mathematics) from Cornell.
I am an ecologist interested in understanding how ecological processes at various spatiotemporal scales generate and maintain biodiversity. Disturbances, broadly defined as recurrent mortality-inducing events such as fire and flood, are ubiquitous and important drivers of community dynamics and functions. My current research focuses on understanding how disturbance regimes (e.g., frequency and intensity of a disturbance) shape ecological communities and their robustness to other future perturbations such as biological invasions.
For example, I study how increasing disturbance frequency affects communities differently from increasing disturbance intensity. I use laboratory microbial communities ("microcosms") consisting of strains of the soil bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens, the phage virus Φ2, and the predatory protist Tetrahymena thermophila to experimentally test these and other questions.