My research focuses on the highly-coevolved plant-insect interactions of the fig and fig wasp pollination mutualism. Intimate interactions between figs and their pollinators have been traced back at least 60 million years and have resulted in an extraordinary level of biodiversity, with over 750 recognized species of Ficus found in tropical and subtropical habitats worldwide. In particular, I am interested in the genetic regulation of fig volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and their role in pollinator attraction. Further, I also study the genetic structure of fig wasps in Baja California and Mainland Mexico. Through this research, I hope to increase the understanding of the evolution and maintenance of mutualisms.
Area of Expertise:
Interdepartmental Genetics and Genomics
B.S., Animal Ecology and Biology, Iowa State University, 2015