Division of Biological Sciences
226 Tucker Hall
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211
I have eclectic interests in ecology and environmental biology, including population modeling, environmental toxicology, conservation, and the use of genetic approaches to answer ecological questions in aquatic ecosystems. I am excited to see how I can interweave these broad fields into an interdisciplinary PhD project as I progress in my graduate studies.
In May 2015, I graduated from William Jewell (a very small liberal arts College north of Kansas City, MO, so if you haven’t heard of it, that’s okay) with B.A. degrees in Biology and Mathematics. I also minored in Spanish; continuing to learn the language and culture is something I am very passionate about.
I had several opportunities to do biological research as an undergraduate at Jewell. I spent most of my freshman year studying the effects of visual and olfactory predatory cues associated with the scorpion Centruroides vittatus on the foraging behavior of wolf-spiders (Rabidosa punctulata). The following year, I collaborated with two other students to evaluate the effect of the protein kinase C inhibitor PMA (phorbol myristate acetate) on proliferation and differentiation in K562 leukemia stem cells. During my junior and senior years at William Jewell, I worked to construct a mathematical model of a reciprocal intraguild predation system as an independent thesis project. I used Lotka-Volterra models associated with competition and predator-prey interactions to build a system of population growth equations for a top predator (Centruroides vitattus), an intermediate predator (Rabidosa punctulata), and a basal resource species.
In the Eggert Lab, I am working to pinpoint the taxonomic status of the Neosho smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu velox), one of two currently recognized smallmouth subspecies along with the Northern variety (M. dolomieu dolomieu). Specifically, I am using both mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA markers to measure genetic differentiation among geographically isolated smallmouth bass populations. By evaluating the genetic relatedness of populations from different ecoregions, it may be possible to determine whether the Neosho smallmouth bass constitutes its own unique species of conservation concern. I hope to use this assessment to inform decisions related to stocking programs and wildlife management.
Over the course of my graduate career, I hope to expand this research into the realms of mathematical modeling, toxicology, and perhaps even epigenetic effects of environmental contaminants.
Outside of research, I am passionate about environmental volunteer work. I have served as a Missouri Park volunteer at Rock Bridge State Park in Columbia, Missouri since the summer of 2014, primarily helping with the removal of invasive bush honeysuckle. Between December 2014 and January 2015, I worked as a volunteer for the National Park of Ecuador on the island of San Cristóbal, Galápagos. I had the opportunity to assist with upkeep in the giant tortoise breeding center, removal of invasive plants, coastline clean-ups, reforestation projects in the highlands, and an ongoing sea lion population study.