Iowa State University
- Ph.D. Botany, University of Wisconsin -Madison 2010
- M.S. Biometry, University of Wisconsin - Madison 2009
- B.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of
- B.S. Mathematics, University of Rochester 2003
am interested in community ecology, macroecology, landscape ecology,
mathematical applications in ecology and evolution. My
research involves the development of novel analysis approaches with
the use of high resolution community and spatial data sets to answer
about the dynamics of plant communities when faced with pressures of
changes such as habitat fragmentation, the spread of invasive species,
fluctuating deer populations.
My post-doctoral research, working with Kirk
Moloney, centers on spatial modeling of the annual/shrub
systems in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. Traditionally, annual plants
were patchily distributed, were restricted to nutrient rich areas under
desert shrubs, and avoided open areas between shrubs. Non-native
annuals are able to spread into the areas between the shrubs, filling
this area with plant biomass, increasing the fuel load in the matrix,
which has historically produced a natural firebreak. Our research, in
collaboration with the laboratory of Claus
Holzapfel at Rutgers University, aims to understand how fire
affects fertility islands and how fire, soil disturbance, and changes
in rainfall affect populations of native and exotic annual species.
The decline of biodiversity through habitat loss and exotic
invasions as a result of human activity is a global phenomenon.
My dissertation research explored several aspects of how regional
species invasions and declines recently observed in Wisconsin upland
forests understories relate to multi-scale spatial distributions of
individual species and uses local and regional abundance and site
occupancy to test theories of predictability of metacommunity species
dynamics. I conducted this work under the guidance of Don Waller at the
University of Wisconsin - Madison, working with historical and
contemporary data from the Wisconsin
Plant Ecology Laboratory.
I conducted a fine scale, spatially explicit study of the nature and
strength of species-environment linkages and spatial patterns in
populations of spring ephemeral and early summer herbs in a
maple-basswood forest in southern Wisconsin. Species declining in
abundance tended to be more consistently clustered at smaller scales
and highly influenced by soil nutrient variables, while increasing
persistent species were less consistent among populations both in
environmental dependencies and spatial structure. Response to
early spring microenvironments varies greatly by species, giving
evidence of micro-scale spatial niche partitioning.
I revisited a technique to visualize the variation of species abundance
over sites and expand upon it by quantifying these patterns.
Frequency data for 89 species across 62 sites best fit a beta-binomial
distribution, as predicted by theory regarding spatially aggregated
populations at smaller scales. A spatial Heterogeneity Index
calculated directly from the beta-binomial parameters for each species
was highly correlated with Morisita’s empirical index of
dispersion, and may allow us to describe patterns in variation in
abundance from several different types of data.
I expanded upon nested subset theory to include frequency
data, and show that this framework has some power to predict local
changes in incidence and abundance. Models based simply on
matrices of species incidence and frequency across sites serve to
provide predictions of regional dynamics even in the absence of more
detailed information on species traits or site characteristics.
I also began to explore ways to use join-count statistics to quantify
spatial distribution of species sampled with a bent-transect of
contiguous quadrats. These spatially explicit data replicated
over dozens of sites can provide us with an excellent opportunity to
assess how local species patterns vary over the larger region.
Virginia, Biology Department, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Laboratory and Research Technician: Worked with Dr. Deborah Roach
to maintain field and greenhouse experiments involving over 25,000
aging plants, coordinating field data collection, processing samples in
the laboratory and managing large data sets using Excel. Compiled
four years of project data into GIS. Supervised
undergraduates. June 2004-June 2005
Research Center, Edgewater, Maryland.
Forestry Studies Intern: Designed and managed project under mentor Dr.
Geoffrey Parker. Studied effect of sunlight on leaf qualities and the
possibility of individual leaves as light environment indicators.
Assisted with lab projects and general lab maintenance. Fall 2003
Cedar Creek Natural
History Area, Bethel, Minnesota.
LTER Project Intern: Assisted with biomass data collection and
processing for projects of Dr. David Tilman. Organized data access
methods, archival data and metadata, updated research and education web
pages. Assisted with large experiment initial setup, cared for
small farm animals. Summer 2003
Farm, Boyce, Virginia.
NSF REU Recipient: Designed, proposed, and implemented original
research protocols under mentor Michael J. Wise from Duke University on
evolution of tolerance in Solanum carolinense. Summarized
findings in a written report and verbal presentation.
Participated in weekly seminars and discussion groups. Summer 2002
Rocky Mountain Biological Lab,
NSF REU Recipient: Designed, proposed, implemented research protocols
under mentor Neo Martinez, Ph.D. on variance of food web composition
over space. Wrote a research paper and orally presented findings.
Participated in weekly seminars and discussion groups. Summer 2001
Conservation Biology, Iowa State University, Guest Lecture and Laboratory Activity Development
Measuring and Describing Ecological Communities. Spring 2012, 2013
Teaching Assistant for General Ecology (Botany 460), University of Wisconsin - Madison. Fall 2009
Teaching Assistant for Intro to Botany (Botany 130), University of Wisconsin - Madison. Spring 2006
Teaching Assistant for Calculus III (Math 143), University of Rochester. Fall 2001
Please see my Mentoring Philosophy and my Mentoring Compact
Mentor for Biology 490 Independent Research. Iowa State University. 2011-2013
Cara Grula, Competitive Abilities of Native and Invasive Species in the Mojave Desert
Mentor for Biology 152 guided research. University of Wisconsin- Madison. Spring 2010
Lydia Weyenberg, The relationship of abundances of six vascular plants
in Wisconsin’s Observatory woods to soil texture.
Courtney Ehlers, Soil Texture in Observatory Woods, Dane County, Wisconsin
and its Effect on Tree Species Distribution.
Research Mentor Training Seminar, Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning. Fall 2012
Preparing Future Faculty, professional development course, Iowa State University. Fall 2011
Graduate Teaching and Learning Circle on Teaching Strategies,
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching Iowa State University. Fall 2011
Workshop on Teaching Individual/Agent Based Modeling, Humboldt State University. June 2011
Teaching Statistics in the Classroom, University of Wisconsin Delta Course. Spring 2008