Zebrafish in situ hybridization image Research

Current Interests
As a Lecturer, my research interests have evolved to focus on application of active learning principles to promote engagement with complex biological material and enhance understanding and retention. My scientific interests include employing bioinformatic tools to understand dynamics of genome organization and the evolutionary fate of duplicate genes. I am also testing novel ways to efficiently encode and manipulate sequence data using numerical and statistical methods.

Post-doctoral Research
As a Research Fellow under Dr. Ajay Chitnis in the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at the NICHD in Bethesda, MD, I developed expertise in vertebrate developmental genetics using zebrafish as a model system. My research focused on the role of Zic family proteins during early neural specification and primary neurogenesis, and the evolution of the Zic loci in vertebrates. In addition, I participated in a haploid mutant screen for early developmental defects in zebrafish, including phenotypic characterization and linkage mapping using microsatellite markers.

Doctoral Thesis Research
My doctoral research investigated different aspects of male mating call evolution in the North American grey treefrog species complex. The grey treefrog complex includes phenotypically and ecologically similar diploid (Hyla chrysoscelis) and tetraploid (H. versicolor) sister-species that differ markedly in their mating calls, each with multiple, cryptic genetic lineages distrubuted over a large geographic area. I investigated (1) polyploidization as a direct mechanism for call divergence, (2) geographic patterns of call variation, and (3) correlations between geographic distribution, call variation, and chromosomal variation among diploid populations across the Appalachian mountains.

Masters Thesis Research
While completing an MS degree at Villanova University in the lab of Dr. John Doherty, I pursued early interests in neurophysiology and behavior. I characterized changes in the phonotactic reponses of female field crickets, Gryllus firmus, to simulated multi-modal variation in male mating call structure, and used those data to construct simple models relating behavior to known proprties of the cricket nervous system.