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Research: Text
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My research interests focus on using an integrative approach to investigate how large scale change impacts organisms across biological levels. From micro-scale changes like genomic and transcriptional alterations, to macro-scale phenotypic change like altered behavior and reproductive success. This integrative approach allows me to build a more complete and robust picture of the true impact that these large scale changes may have on the organisms effected. I have worked with the Red-sided garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis) to explore the effects of a changing and dynamic thermal  environment, using a multifaceted approach combining assays on behavior, physiology, reproduction, and transcription. My current projects involve using the model system Drosophila melanogaster to explore the interaction between metabolism and aging, with future plans to explore the mechanisms of convergent evolution and natural selection at a multi-omic scale. Some of my major projects are briefly described below.

Research: About
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Acute Thermal Stress

The Red -sided garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis) is a reptile living at the Northern edge of their range. Temperatures are far from ideal for a reptile, with long winters reaching as low as -40 degrees! Not only do the winters get extremely cold, but the spring and summer rapidly heat up, and are becoming more extreme due to climate change. I wanted to establish a modern baseline for their thermal biology and compare it to known data from this population in the past, and related populations. Additionally, I wanted to investigate how they handled the rapid temperature changes they experience in the spring. I did  series of experiments including physiological, behavioral, and transcriptional assays to explore this.

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Warming Environments and Reproduction

It is well known that temperature has a tremendous impact on reproduction in reptiles. With how rapidly thermal conditions are changing, especially in the region this population calls home, I wanted to see how the high end, end of century, climate model predictions might impact gestation and neonate health in this population. We looked at a 5 degree C increase in ambient temperature and found a profound impact on both maternal and offspring outcomes.

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Prolonged Winter Dormancy and Aphagia

This population of garter snakes has a long winter dormancy period,  up to 8 months each year, where they do not eat any food and their body temperatures are near freezing the whole time. I wanted to better understand what they were doing during this long and extreme dormancy period. I was particularly interested in how they used energy reserves during this time, as they go so long without eating, but immediately go into their most energetically demanding period right after leaving this long term dormancy. I investigated this by creating a transcriptional profile of their 36 week winter dormancy period, focusing on gene expression in the liver and testis.


Metabolism and Aging

I have recently moved away from garter snakes and am jumping in to the world of fruit flies. My first project aims to profile

the lifetime metabolome in two lineages of fruit flies. We will compare normally aging and rapidly aging lines of Drosophila melanogaster, with the goal to tease out the metabolomics of aging.


Mechanisms of Convergent Evolution

I plan to continue and expand upon my integrative work, with the goal to develop a "multi-omic" approach to investigating evolution. The goal is to use multiple techniques, including genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, phenomics, and more in unison to explore the concepts of parallel and convergent evolution. Additionally, I plan to use a time series element to this work, so we can see not only what changes in these populations, but what the trajectory is for this change. Stay tuned!

Research: Research
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