I'm a graduate student at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY and I study forest entomology, specifically non-native insects and developing effective management strategies. More to come soon!!
Most of my previous experience has been focused on the management and biology of native forest insects, particularly bark beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Bark beetles are insect herbivores that feed on the nutrient-conducting tissue (phloem) of trees. Their feeding activities can lead to individual tree mortality and,under optimal environmental conditions, stand-replacing disturbance events that rival the extent and severity of forest fires. I am interested in how individual beetle fitness (size) determines how beetles perform while in tree tissue. I also study the relationships between fitness and the composition of microbial assemblages vectored by beetles. Microbial community interactions are extremely important to the reproductive success of bark beetles and subsequent epidemic population cycles. These interactions involve multiple taxon: fungi, bacteria, mites, nematodes, as well as other insects. These multi-faceted relationships are complex to understand and difficult to tease apart. However, this make studying bark beetles an exciting and ever-evolving field. Research in the field of forest entomology is in constant flux due to technological advances in management and detection strategies, as well as the periodic emergence of undesirable non-native forest pests. Check out some of the exciting new research at my alma mater!!
I became interested in studying bark beetles and forest health as a undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While there, I had the opportunity to work in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem on a research project investigating the effects of severe wildfire on bark beetle populations and vice versa. I also did independent research and wrote my senior thesis on the defense mechanism of whitebark pine to mountain pine beetle. Whitebark pine is a high-elevation conifer particularly susceptible to mountain pine beetle infestation because of historically limited interactions. However, a changing climate has allowed beetle populations to cause widespread whitebark pine mortality in elevations historically too cold for successful reproduction. Here is a press release for further details describing these cascading effects in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Outside of school, I have a ton of different hobbies to take my mind off all my lab and field work. I enjoy doing a lot of stuff outside, so upstate New York has been an ideal region to move to for graduate school. Trail running and mountain biking are great ways to explore the are and unwind after work or on the weekends. This summer I plan to travel to locales ideal for trail running, practicing my Spanish and fly fishing (the last two needing desperate improvement). I really enjoy new experiences in general, whether it be food, travel, sports, or cultures. The world is a big place, explore it!!
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