My interests lie in: (i) elucidating the evolutionary origins of fungal symbiotic associations; (ii) clarifying the roles traits have played in shaping lineage diversification; (iii) understanding the roles fungi have played in the evolution of terrestrial ecosystems. I am a postdoctoral researcher at The Field Museum (Integrative Research Center), and recently completed a postdoc at Stanford University (Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences). I conducted my Ph.D. at the University of Chicago (Committee on Evolutionary Biology), which focused on questions related to the macroevolutionary dynamics of fungi, and the evolutionary origins and diversification of symbiotic associations. To address these questions, I utilized the lichen symbiosis (associations between fungi and algae) as a model. As many of these questions rely on the accurate placement of taxa and understanding the identity of these algal symbionts, much of my work focused on clarifying the phylogenetic position of various fungal taxa and using sequence data to identify algal symbionts while simultaneously elucidating their genetic diversity. Additionally, many of these questions rely on accurate estimates of species richness, consequently, I have also worked on projects related to species delimitation and the formal description of unclassified taxa.
Contact: mpnelsen [@] gmail [.] com (remove brackets [ ] and spaces)