I am getting started on a new project looking at variation in downy plumage across elevational gradients in the context of anthropogenic change. Plans for this project include museum-based research utilizing specimens to assess where change has occurred in the past 100 years, as well as field work and transcriptomics to study down feather development and regulation.
Moore Laboratory of Zoology
The Mexican Bird Resurvey Project
Integrative taxonomy of the Yellow Grosbeak and Black-thighed Grosbeak species complex
Integrative taxonomy employs phenotype, genotype, and ecological niche as complementary axes of divergence to assess the extent of recent divergence in enigmatic species. I am currently working to assess species limits for members of the genus Pheucticus, a relatively young and species-poor genus (<3 Ma old) in the cardinal family (Cardinalidae) comprising six woodland species with large bills, which are mostly seed-eating.
Historic museum specimens of Pheucticus chrysopeplus at the Moore Lab of Zoology at Occidental College. 2021.
Microbial community structure of neotropical insects specialized with Passiflora
Disonycha quinquelineatus, Pedelia, Aniscolesis flavolineata, and Edessa eburatula are neotropical insects specialized with cyanogenic passionflower that have nutritional bacterial symbionts. My goal for this study was to learn more about these species’ internal anatomy and amplify their bacterial 16S rRNA genes to determine possible symbionts. At La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica alongside Dr. Shana Goffredi, I collected a range of samples from different life stages, which allowed for observation of both eggs and juveniles to determine how the presence of microbes varies throughout maturity.
Photos of the stinkbug Edessa eburatula, flag-footed bug Anisocelis flavolineata, and flea bugs Pedelia
and D. quinquelineatus collected in Costa Rica in June 2019.
Dissecting insect digestive tracts at La Selva Biological Station
Stink bug digestive tract
Bar chart of relative microbiome composition as percent abundance (based
on the 16S rRNA gene) across 4 species of insects specialized with Passionflower at different life stages. Bacterial genera comprised of a plethora of microbial OTUs were color-coded as a whole. Bacteria that occupied considerable amounts of the sample’s microbiome composition or were shared across multiple samples were labeled to indicate significance. Data was obtained from sequencing results from Laragen, Inc and compared to the GenBank database. Samples labeled VR are from one of Dr. Goffredi’s past student’s results, and were included for comparison.
In the summers of 2017 and 2019 I interned with the Preheim Lab at Johns Hopkins University's Whiting School of Engineering. Research in the Preheim lab focuses on the ecology of microorganisms and microbial processes impacting water quality, namely in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Rock Creek Sampling Summer 2019
Rock Creek Sampling with Dr. Sarah Preheim Summer 2019