- B.A., Environmental Science and Public Policy, Harvard University, 2007
I am exploring the effects of feral African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) on native amphibians in southern California to determine if they are negatively affecting native population. I am studying how African clawed frogs may impact native amphibians by altering their behavior through indirect interactions. Using lab and field based experiments, I will determine if native amphibian adults and larvae (tadpoles) behaviorally respond to the presence of African clawed frogs.
I am also investigating how African clawed frogs may be contributing to the spread of the amphibian pathogen,Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), to native species. African clawed frogs have the potential to be reservoirs for the pathogen and may spread it to the native amphibians. I am checking feral African clawed frogs and co-occurring native amphibians for Bd infection and will also perform lab-based experiments to explore the potential for transmission between African clawed frogs and native frogs.
In addition, I am exploring the overlap between African clawed frogs and native amphibians. Currently, I am exploring how environmental DNA can be utilized to test for the presence of amphibian species. By filtering DNA from stream or pond water, there is the potential to quickly determine what amphibians are present, using PCR and genetic sequencing techniques, without labor-intensive surveys.
Community ecology; invasive species; herpetology; animal behavior
I have taught laboratory courses in Evolution and Ecology of Terrestrial Vertebrates (EEMB 113), Ethology and Behavioral Ecology (EEMB 138), Vertebrate Evolutionary Morphology (EEMB 108), Introductory Biology (EEMB 2L, EEMB 3L), and Invertebrate Zoology (EEMB 112, EEMB 116). I have taught discussion courses in Physical Geography (3B) and Principles of Evolution (EEMB 131). I am co-teaching Ethology and Behavioral Ecology (EEMB 138) in winter 2014-15.
I am involved in Science Line, an organization at UCSB that strives to make a better connection between young people and science. K-12th graders submit weekly science-based questions and we answer them. It is an excellent reminder to keep people engaged in science and it is a blast to see some of the questions students come up with. I have given presentation on my research and invasive species to classes at a local high school, Dos Pueblos High School. I think it is important to keep science accessible and applicable to younger people so they do not become intimidated or disengaged by it.