Why are some groups of organisms more diverse than others? For example, there exists
over 10,000 species of birds, but their closest relatives [crocodiles and alligators] comprise only of 23 species. To understand these disparities in diversity across the tree of life, I study factors that may impact organismal diversification over long evolutionary time scales. Currently, I am examining the relationship between venom gene duplication and patterns of species richness in cone snails, a diverse (>700 species) group of carnivorous snails that feed on their prey using a cocktail of venomous neurotoxins.
Species delimitation, phylogeography, and population genomics
As an undergraduate, I worked on a project (along with 2 other awesome undergraduates) examining species boundaries in the California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi). To do this work, we characterized genetic, environmental, and morphological data for species throughout the range to reassess species boundaries. I am currently using population genomic techniques to infer the demographic history of this species.