My research focuses on the role of natural selection in driving phenotypic diversification and speciation in natural populations. Although biologists since Darwin have postulated that natural selection is an important mechanism promoting the evolution of diversity, fundamental questions such as how much selection varies in time and space, the ecological causes of selection, and the genetic basis of selected traits remain unanswered.
I first studied these topics as an undergraduate at Oberlin College, where I did field work on plants, amphibians, and mammals. My fascination with ecology and evolutionary biology led me to the University of Illinois, where I completed my doctoral dissertation on the role of inter-specific competition for pollinators in driving floral evolution. During this time, I became interested in understanding the genetic basis of complex traits, such as flowers, that have been shaped by natural selection. This motivated me to study the quantitative genetics of natural variation in plant floral and physiological traits as a postdoctoral fellow at Grinnell College and Duke University. I am continuing this research in ecology, evolution, and genetics in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph.
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