All forms of life are connected through an incredibly complex patchwork of ecological and evolutionary processes. A vast number of current populations, from bacteria and fungi to plants and mammals, are experiencing rapidly changing physical environments and biotic interactions as a result of anthropogenic activities. The responses of individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems to such changes will ultimately govern the redistribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services under global change.
What excites me about being an ecologist is that I can use experimental approaches to better understand how current ecological interactions and evolutionary processes shape variation in responses of plants, microbes, and interactions between plants and microbes, to global change.
I began my postdoctoral research associate position in the Soil Management Lab at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in August of 2020. Here I am working on a USDA-funded project to explore plant-soil-microbial interactions in agricultural systems. We want to understand how these interactions mediate long-known positive effects of crop diversification on soil health and crop yields.
Prior to my position at UTK, I was a postdoc in the Sheth lab at NC State in Fall 2018. I explored evolutionary responses of Mimulus cardinalis (scarlet monkeyflower; see top picture on the right) to climate change, and how these responses vary across the species geographic range. We focused on an important trait called thermal performance, which gives us an idea of how well organisms can tolerate variation in temperature. We have published that work here, but keep an eye out for more publications on plant thermal performance in the near future!