Research

Behavior ~ Ecology ~ Evolution ~ Development

I am interested in the proximate mechanisms, ecological interactions, and evolutionary factors that are responsible for shaping the two major aspects of an animal that allow it to adapt to our changing world: behavior and development.

The majority of my research is focused on two groups of frogs, the dendrobatids (Dendrobatidinae) and the toads (Bufonidae), and some of my work has involved anoline lizards.

Mother Oophaga pumilio transporting tadpoles to a bromeliad

Mother Oophaga pumilio transporting tadpoles to a bromeliad

Female yunga

Rhinella yunga, “earless” toad found in the Peruvian Amazon

I began my research career at Brookfield Zoo with Dr. Sue Margulis on a giraffe behavior project in 2001. During undergrad at Michigan State, I studied the genomics of feline asthma with Dr. Susan Ewert and the green anole neuromuscular system and the zebra finch song control nuclei with behavioral neuroscientist Dr. Juli Wade. Then I completed with my Ph.D. in 2012 with Dr. Richard Tokarz (committee: Dr. Maureen Donnelly, Dr. Bill Searcy, and Dr. Don DeAngelis) at the University of Miami and transitioned to positions with the Organization for Tropical Studies as the Director of Undergraduate Programs and Co-Coordinator of the Graduate Fundamentals in Tropical Biology course for a few years after that. In late 2014, I began a postdoc position in Dr. Kim Hoke’s lab at Colorado State University exploring behavior and gene expression in a clade of toads that display variation in the development of hearing structures .

My academic passions outside of research include hands-on teaching, especially in field courses, and outreach projects in science communication and informal education. When I’m not doing research or those things, I love running with my dog, cooking, and traveling.

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