Projects

I’m broadly interested in population genetics/genomics, landscape genetics, invasive species, disease vectors, conservation, and human evolution and health. My graduate work combined genetic tools and spatial analyses to understand gene flow and the invasion dynamics of the Yellow Fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti). Ae. aegpyti is an invasive species that has colonized much of the tropical and subtropical world, and it is a primary vector for dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever. As a postdoc I will be exploring population genomics of another widespread species, Homo sapiens!

Fine-scale structure and adaptation in eastern Africa

As a postdoc I will be studying human genetic diversity, structure, and adaptation. In particular I will be leading work on fine-scale population structure and genetic adaptation in eastern Africa, especially as these relate to ecological and cultural barriers.


Modeling genetic connectivity

I am interested in developing landscape genetics methodology that integrates population genetics with spatial analyses in order to detect and describe gene flow. By combining a random forest modeling approach with an iterative optimization procedure I developed a method to integrate genetic and environmental data to map landscape connectivity. I am applying and validating the method or the Ae. aegypti, with the goal of informing vector control, particularly the release of genetically modified or Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes.


Invasion dynamics in Ae. aegypti

The Yellow Fever mosquito was first detected in northern California (CA) in 2013 and in southern CA in 2014. Using genetic analyses (microsatellites and SNPs) and approximate Bayesian computation, our work shows that the northern and southern CA groups are genetically distinct and originated from separate invasions. I have expanded on this work to consider the new invasion into Las Vegas (2017), and the invasion history across North America more broadly.


Decision-making in red harvester ants

Social insect colonies use interactions among workers to regulate collective behavior. Previous studies of the activation of foragers in red harvester ants show that an outgoing forager inside the nest experiences an increase in brief antennal contacts before it leaves the nest to forage. With Dr. Deborah, Jovel Queirolo and I investigated whether ants that leave the nest experienced more interactions than those that did not, how the rate of forager return affects the number of available foragers in the entrance chamber, and where most interactions occur. More details and results are available here.