CV (Updated 1/2020)
A reproductive physiologist with an interest in life history evolution.
Animals take different approaches to reproduction. One of the most fundamental ways animals differ is whether they invest heavily in only a few offspring or whether put their effort into many many offspring. For example, the average litter size of mice is much larger than that of elephants - and the "litter sizes" of salmon make mice look like heavy investors! The connection between investment and offspring number is central to life history theory, and questions about the environmental modulators of this connection led me to the field of reproductive physiology.
I am particularly interested in the physiology that constrains reproductive output and the mechanisms that are responsible for variation in reproductive traits among and within species. I ask questions about two different types of variation in reproduction:
I am currently a Post-doctoral Fellow at University of Montana supported by an NSF Post-doctoral Fellowship and the UNVEIL Network
- My post-doctoral work is focused on understanding how reproductive traits are affected by and adapted to extreme environments. Reproductive success is a central component of and organism's fitness, but we still understand very little about how reproductive traits evolve and adapt.
- In humans and all other mammals studied to date, pregnancy at high altitude comes with increased risks to fetal and maternal health. However, human populations and animals that have adapted to altitude over generations of living under low oxygen appear to be protected from these risks. We are using functional genomics approaches to understand how altitude adaptation affects the establishment and development of the placenta and fetus using the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus). Our data are generating new insight into placental development and the way in which natural selection for altitude adaption must also modify reproductive function.
I completed my dissertation work at UC Berkeley under Dr. George Bentley
- I completed my Phd in Integrative Biology in May 2019
- My dissertation worked on understanding how the mammalian, female reproductive tract (ovaries and uterus) directly senses and responds to cues. I used both in vitro and in vivo approaches to answer questions about organ and tissue-specific function. As part of this work, I developed cell isolation and culture methods for endometrial epithelial cells from the domestic cat.
During my PhD, I spent 2 summers training with reproductive scientists at the Smithsonian.
- Working under Pierre Comizzoli at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, DC, I received training in approaches used for reproductive endocrinology research in conservation settings.
- Three chapters of my dissertation utilize these approaches to answer functional questions about the female reproductive tract, and two of these focus on the domestic cat as a model system for endangered feline species conservation efforts.