I am a mathematical biologist interested in the evolution of
ecosystems, the interactions among organisms within them, and disease
dynamics at the interface of human and natural communities. Currently I
postdoctoral fellow at the ByWater
Institute at Tulane University, where
I am integrating data and theory to develop a spatial model of the
dynamics of Rattus species
changes in the distribution of human exposure risk to zoonotic
pathogens through time, and to
investigate the societal and ecological impact of disease intervention
strategies following a natural disaster.
Before coming to Tulane, I worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Annette
Ostling's Lab in the department of
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan, and then as a
Ford postdoctoral fellow with the Pacific
Computational Ecology Lab in Berkeley, CA.
Community abundance patterns
Can species abundance patterns reveal underlying niche structure?
Neutral dynamics are based on demographic
stochasticity and immigration, while niches can arise through dynamics based on trait differences that affect
fitnesses of competing populations. To explore the differences in
species abundance distribution patterns that arise in ecological communities with these
two types of
dynamics, I use stochastic metapopulation competition models.
Collaborators: Annette Ostling, Gyuri Barabas, and Rafael D'Andrea
Food web evolution
Food webs are complex networks of who eats whom in an ecosystem.
By modeling the dynamics of these systems and the evolution of these
structures through time, we can explore the impacts of speciation and
adaptation on properties of food webs. I am interested in studying how
species survival depends on the ecosystem context in which one arises,
and how it in turn, affects the species already present. By combining
evolution with ecological dynamics, we can study stability and
resilience of food webs in a more realistic setting.
Collaborator: Neo Martinez
Evolution of competition
Evolution can change the expected outcome of
competition. When species are able to adapt quickly in the presence of
competitors, two competing species may be able to coexist stably, when
otherwise one would be expected to competitively exclude the
other. This scenario requires certain conditions on the speed of
evolution and the competition coefficients. We used evolutionary
game theory to model this and other changes that may arise in
competitive systems due to evolution. These models are inspired
by and compare favorably to scenarios that have arisen in competition
experiments with Tribolium
This is my dissertation work, advised by Jim Cushing and Tom Vincent in collaboration with Bob Costantino at the University of Arizona.