My research interests lie in understanding the drivers of biodiversity, especially species interactions. I primarily explore ecological questions using molecular tools such as DNA metabarcoding and shotgun metagenomics. My work encompasses field collections and experiments, molecular work in the laboratory, and computational analysis and modeling.
I am currently a Soil Microbiology Engineer/Scientist contractor with the Soil Microbiology Team at the US Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory. My job involves exploring the microbiome of permafrost and other cold environments to understand how microbes live in extreme environments and how microbial communities will respond to changes like warming climate.
Prior to joining the Soil Microbiology Team, my postdoctoral work at Harvard involved using DNA extracted from blood-feeding leeches to identify the animals that the leeches have fed on, in order to monitor changing biodiversity in the Ailao Mountains of China’s Yunnan Province. My previous postdoctoral work at Princeton used DNA metabarcoding to explore how termites create spatial patterns in soil microbial communities in African savannas. My PhD research focused on ant-associated microbial and arthropod communities on the Vachellia (Acacia) drepanolobium ant-plants that grow in these savannas, using DNA barcoding, metabarcoding and stable isotope analysis to examine species associations, community compositions and trophic interactions.