Research

Color Diversity Evolution
I am fascinated by the diversity of colors and patterns within some groups of organisms, as well as by the lack of diversity in others. What factors determine how diverse an animal group will become? How do innovations in color mechanisms affect available color spaces? How do discrete structures work together to form complex patterns such as those in butterflies and birds and what can these patterns tell us about the strength of selection? 



Pigment Physiology
Colors in animals can play significant roles besides communication and signalling.  For instance, many integumentary pigments have the potential to act as potent antioxidants or pro-oxidants depending on their molecular context. My dissertation research assessed the antioxidant role of carotenoids and melanins in freeze tolerance and recovery in animals who naturally undergo freeze-thaw (painted turtles and wood frogs). Additionally, I tested the effects of dietary supplementation on the maternal allocation of antioxidants and pigments to offspring and I investigated some of the complex effects and interactions of UV, temperature, and substrate on melanogenesis and oxidative stress. 
                    Collaborators: Ryan Calsbeek


Long-term Painted Turtle Study
I maintain a long-term field site on Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) in Sawyer County, Wisconsin. For eight years, I have conducted a mark-recapture study on painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) in LCO. Long-term field studies are necessary to obtain relevant data for long-lived animals such as freshwater turtles and the dataset I am building will be available for studies of growth, morphology, color, and population dynamics.
                Collaborators: LCOF