August 2012 - present: PhD student in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics - Department of Biology, University of Missouri - St. Louis
2009 - 2011: M.S. in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics - Department of Biology, University of Missouri - St. Louis
2004 - 2007: B.S. in Biology, University of Texas at San Antonio
As a Primary Researcher:
August 2009 - May 2011: MS thesis research described below.
August 2012 - present: PhD dissertation work described below.
As an assistant:
February - August 2009: Research Assistant. Transmission Dynamics of Avian Poxvirus in the Galapagos Islands. Personnel: Dr. Patricia Parker, Dr. Sharon Deem, Jenni Higashiguchi
September 2008 - January 2009: Research Assistant, Tool use in Carpenter Finches. PhD Student: Irmgard Teschke, MPI for Ornithology
February - April 2008: Field Assistant, Small Ground Finch Diversity within the Island of Santa Cruz - Galapagos. PhD Student: Toby Heath Galligan, Flinders University (AUS)
As an Ecuadorian biologist I have always had a strong interest in the Galapagos Islands, a global icon not only for the study of ecology and evolution but for the tame inquisitiveness of its unique fauna. My interests in applied ecology became accentuated through my research experiences in the archipelago and through my master's work on the impacts of goat eradication on the feeding ecology of the Galapagos hawk. As vegetation recovered after the eradication of goats, the Santiago hawk population experienced changes in survivorship and reproduction. I examined the dramatic changes in diet that we could attribute to the eradication of goats.
Currently, I am interested in understanding how disease affects the ecology of organisms and subsequently, their evolution. The discovery of Plasmodium in Galapagos penguins and endemic passerines provides an opportunity for the study of disease ecology on an isolated archipelago that, as known to date, still conserves an intact avifauna. The date of arrival of Plasmodium is unknown; how the birds are affected by infection could depend on whether the parasite arrived recently or has been in the islands for a long time, how it arrived and what is keeping it there. I will like to learn about the disease dynamics of Plasmodium on the Galapagos Islands because it will be informative for conservation strategies as well as for understanding disease ecology in fairly isolated ecosystems.