About Me

         

I am a marine ecologist, specializing in invasion biology, parasite ecology, population genetics, and biogeography. 

I am currently working at Long Island University-Post, where I first started in 2011. I am presently in my third year as an Assistant Professor in the Biology department. Over the past three years, I have taught several undergraduate courses related to general biology and ecology, and a graduate level course, Marine Ecology (see 'Teaching'). I am also furthering my research program at LIU with undergraduate students and Masters' students (see 'Professional Experience and Research Activities').

From 2007-2011, I worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Marine Invasions Ecology Laboratory at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewater, Maryland under the supervision of Drs. Gregory Ruiz and Whitman Miller. Please visit the lab's staff page for more information. While at SERC, I received two postdoctoral fellowships: the first (2007-2009) was a Smithsonian Institution (SI) fellowship, where I focused on the global phylogeography of an invasive marine snail, and the second (2009-2011) was a fellowship through SI’s Marine Science Network, where I studied the differential effects of genetic diversity on marine invertebrate hosts and their parasites in native versus introduced regions. Through my appointment as a research associate at SI, I remain strongly tied to the Marine Invasions lab at SERC.
 
Prior to my appointment at the Smithsonian, I completed my Ph.D. in May 2007 at the University of New Hampshire with adviors, James (Jeb) Byers and Michael Lesser. My dissertation work explored the 150 year question regarding the ecological history of a highly abundant intertidal gastropod, the common periwinkle (Littorina littorea), a native of Europe, which prior to my research had been debated for over 100 years regarding its status as native or introduced to northeast North America. To resolve the snail's cryptogenic status in North America, I used mitochondrial DNA sequencing of two genes in the snail as well as two parasite analyses, a trematode species richness comparison in Europe versus North America to explore the potential for enemy escape (specifically parasite escape) in L. littorea compared to native congeners L. saxatilis and L. obtusata, and mitochondrial DNA sequencing in L. littorea's most common trematode parasite, Cryptocotyle lingua. I found both L. littorea and its trematode to show strong signatures of a genetic founder effect and additionally I found the snail to show signatures for parasite release in North America as opposed to L. saxatilis and L. obtusata. Altogether, these multiple lines of evidence point towards a recent introduction of the snail to North America from Europe (Blakeslee & Byers, 2008; Blakeslee et al., 2008).

 
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