2013 - Present: M.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics - University of Missouri - St. Louis
2009: B.S. in Biology - University of Missouri - St. Louis
2007: A.S. in Biology - Southwestern Illinois College
2011-2012: Research Technician, Washington University-School of Medicine
My main research interests include behavioral/disease ecology and conservation within tropical regions. Since 4th grade, I have had a passion for the tropics and have aspired to help in conservation efforts, especially in the Galapagos Islands. In the Master's program at UMSL, I am living my dream and have an amazing research opportunity! For my Master's thesis, I am collaborating with Charlotte Causton and the Charles Darwin Research Station to study Philornis downsi, an ectoparasitic fly in the Galapagos Islands, and determine if this species is a competent vector for any avian pathogens. My collaborators at the Charles Darwin Research Station collected adult Philornis downsi samples in the Galapagos Islands in 2013. For my thesis work, I am analyzing these samples in the laboratory by conducting molecular screenings using nested PCRs to determine the prevalence of haemosporidian blood parasites and trypanosomes that specifically infect avian species. Determining if P. downsi can transmit disease-causing parasites to birds is important because it can indicate if management/control of avian disease vectors should include a focus on this species to help protect and conserve the native and endemic avian species. In addition, I am also currently a Missouri Master Naturalist and intern with the Audubon Society.