I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences at North Dakota State University, and I am associated with the USDA ARS Insect Genetics and Biochemistry in Fargo, ND. I am generally interested in the physiology and mechanisms that underlie life history (developmental) transitions in organisms--specifically insect metamorphosis. Previously, my dissertation work focused on the proximate causes of metamorphosis the larval tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta), with focus on energetics and resource accumulation. My current work builds upon this research by studying metamorphosis and its consequences in larval Hymenopterans: the alfalfa leafcutter bee (Megachile rotundata), the blue orchard mason bee (Osmia lignaria), and honey bees (Apis mellifera). My research addresses 3 overarching questions:
  1. What are the proximate mechanisms for metamorphosis in individual insects, and how do these factors change with ecological context and evolution of different species?
  2. How do insects coordinate the development of major physiological systems during metamorphosis (for example, oxygen supply)?
  3. What are the consequences of metamorphic dynamics on adult insects--such as early vs. delayed development or environmental perturbation?
You can read more about my research interests here.

Though my research program is aimed at addressing conceptual issues in insect metamorphosis and life history transitions, I have recently started addressing these questions in beneficial insect pollinators. Along with collaborators at NDSU and the USDA, we are studying the causes and consequences of metamorphosis in agriculturally-important pollinators. Our short term goal is to build upon our knowledge about the development of our insect pollinators that will lead to improved management practices, including pollinator rearing conditions, the impacts of environmental perturbation, and how bee traits correspond with their efficacy as pollinators. Our long-term goal is to improve the health of our managed pollinators through a better understanding of their developmental physiology and in turn to build an integrative view about how individual pollinators will perform from egg to adult. This is especially important because we expect the managed use of pollinator populations to continue growing for both agricultural and natural ecosystems.

Teaching and Outreach
I am strongly committed to teaching, service, and outreach programs that benefit the public, education, and scientific community. In addition to teaching assistanceships during my graduate studies, I have developed an introductory biology course that is administered in an online learning environment at North Dakota State University, and I will continue to improve this course in the future. I also have experience teaching a breadth of courses such as ecology, evolutionary biology, ornithology, and introductory biology (high school and university).

In the past, I have mentored many undergraduate students, including students who have become coauthors on manuscripts, research presentations, and posters. I am currently mentoring 2 REU students through an NSF grant that I coauthored with my postdoctoral mentors. I also am mentoring 1 additional REU student that is funded through a crowdsourced project.

For outreach, I have collaborated with postdoctoral mentors and graduate students at NDSU/USDA to develop pollinator outreach materials and activities that will be hosted at the Red River Zoo in Fargo, ND. These materials include educational posters and live organism exhibits, such as honey bee hives and solitary bee hotels.