2009 - Present. M.S. in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, University of Missouri-St. Louis. Thesis: Population and disease modeling of the Galápagos penguin.
2009. B.A., Mathematics, Biology minor, University of Missouri-St. Louis
My research project focuses on creating a computer simulation of the dynamics of transmission of Plasmodium parasites in the Galapagos penguin, Spheniscus mendiculus. Plasmodium has only recently been discovered in the Galapagos Islands and is a major conservation concern, because malaria caused by Plasmodium parasites has been implicated in several avian extinction events in the Hawaiian Islands. The Galapagos penguin is considered particularly threatened, because other Spheniscus species that have contracted malaria in zoos have high levels of mortality. The penguin population also goes through large population crashes during strong El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, which makes the species even more vulnerable.
Because information about malaria's effect on the Galapagos penguin is limited, the goal of my project is to assess the impact of several probable scenarios of disease transmission and mortality. The outcome of these simulations can then be used to direct future efforts at data collection and conservation.