Throughout my continuing science journey, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of talented scientists on a diverse collection of research projects. Here’s a bit about where I’ve been and what I’ve done.
Jiang Lab, University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Horticulture (2006-2008)
As an undergrad at UW–Madison in the Jiang Lab, I collaborated on a project investigating resistance to the potato late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans, the causative agent of the infamous Irish potato famine. The plant resistance gene RB from a wild potato species confers resistance to P. infestans, and transgenic RB potato lines are promising for late blight control in agricultural systems. We investigated transcript abundance of the RB gene (and other genes involved in RB-mediated disease resistance) in these transgenic potato lines.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008-2010)
Post-undergrad, I received an ORISE research fellowship through the CDC National Botulism Laboratory Team (NBLT). The botulinum toxin, produced by the soil bacteria Clostridium botulinum, causes flaccid paralysis and is one of the most potent neurotoxins. Here, I assisted in developing and validating a botulinum neurotoxin gene qRT-PCR assay to be used in outbreak cases. I also co-authored a study investigating the toxin gene diversity of Type F toxin-producing Clostridia.
Buckley Lab, Cornell University (2010-2016)
I earned my PhD from Cornell University under the mentorship of Daniel Buckley. My work focused on the biogeography of soil-dwelling Streptomyces. Streptomyces are important players in the terrestrial carbon cycle and also produce most of the antibiotics we use (i.e. total badasses). We found that patterns of genetic diversity and biogeography of Streptomyces across the United Sates are similar to those observed in many plant and animal systems resulting from post-Pleistocene glaciation dynamics. I’ve utilized a multitude of population genetic and comparative population genomic approaches to infer the historical evolutionary processes generating patterns of Streptomyces biogeography.
MBL Microbial Diversity (2012-2013)
For two amazing summers in Woods Hole, MA, I was a teaching assistant for the Microbial Diversity course at Marine Biological Laboratories. Rainbow-colored microbial mats, flaming methane swamps, and secret midnight bioluminescence swims… about sums it up.
Fierer Lab, University of Colorado-Boulder CIRES (2016-present)
I joined the Fierer Lab as a postdoc in August 2016. I spend my time working on a range of soil microbiology projects. These projects include 1) the chemical diversity and ecological role of microbial-derived volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from soil, litter, and pure cultures, 2) range size and dispersal dynamics of soil and dust-associated microbial taxa, 3) computational approaches to address outstanding questions in soil microbiology.