I am broadly interested in how ecological communities persist across space and time. To me, the defining characteristic of ecological communities is that they self-assemble, and that they maintain themselves across large spatial and temporal scales even when faced with perturbations and disturbance. I find this fascinating because it suggests that predictive understanding of community ecology could help us engineer ecological communities that provide particular desired goods and services, but are able to maintain themselves with minimal inputs.
In order to address this topic, I work across many kinds of ecological communities, though I am particularly familiar with tallgrass prairies in the US Midwest, and ant communities in the US North East and the Caribbean. My work includes field experiments, taxonomy, and building new theoretical models. My main focus is on synthesizing existing data and theory (of which there is a lot) in order to build predictive models of community assembly for real-world systems, which remains an elusive goal in ecology.
I finished my Ph.D. work in summer 2017, working under David Tilman in the University of Minnesota's Department of Ecology Evolution, and Behavior. My research was conducted predominantly at the Cedar Creek Long Term Ecological Research Site, and worked to explain how interactions among prairie plant species and their environments influenced ecosystem properties. I completed my undergraduate work at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology in 2011, studying the effects of disturbance on ant community assembly in the Brian Farrell Lab. Though I focus mostly on plant communities these days, but I'm still excited by projects that involve ant ecology and taxonomy. For a more comprehensive academic tree, please see here.