I'm currently working as a Research Associate at the Field Museum of Natural History, where I have been continuing research that I began as a doctoral student on the influence of symbiotic soil organisms on plant community diversity and structure in tropical forests (La Selva, Costa Rica). This work has been conducted in conjunction with the Organization for Tropical Studies, Argonne National Laboratory, Field Museum of Natural History, MINAE and the Costa Rican Institute for Biodiversity (INBIO).
I recently received my doctorate in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Chicago, where I was advised by Dr. R. Michael Miller (Argonne National Laboratory) and Dr. Gregory Mueller (Field Museum of Natural History). My dissertation was focused on how plant community diversity, composition and structure are influenced by the assemblage of symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi (Glomeromycota) with which it associates. In order to address this subject, my research was comprised of both greenhouse experiments on tallgrass prairie plants (Chicago, IL) and observational work conducted in the tropical rainforest (Heredia, Costa Rica). These projects required the use of many data gathering and experimentation techniques such as: GIS, DNA cloning and sequencing, tissue staining and light microscopy, Phospholipid Fatty Acid extraction, and soil chemistry analysis. This work was incredibly labor intensive and would not have been possible without the cooperation of independent experts and assistance of many volunteers, for which I am very grateful.