My major research interests lie in quantitative ecology and environmental decision-making. I combine modeling and/or experimental approaches to understand and predict the response of populations to rapidly changing environmental conditions, as well as to provide support for environmental decisions in the areas of desert restoration, invasive species management and epidemic intervention. I am currently working on Ebola modelling and management. By using simulations of alternative intervention strategies under different models, I am trying to provide insights into how model uncertainties could affect decision-making, and how this would differ when the management objectives are different. During my previous researches at Turku University and Utrecht University, I combined demographic modeling, molecular markers, large scale filed experiments and common garden approaches to explore the factors driving the population establishment of invasive plants and the population dynamics of desert shrubs in response to different environmental stresses and disturbances.
I am a theoretical ecologist interested in how population processes at various scales generate and maintain biodiversity. Currently I am studying the effects of disturbance on the structure of ecological communities. Disturbances are ubiquitous in nature, and how different species in a community react ecologically and evolutionarily to disturbances affects the interactions between species and the overall community. I have a penchant for experiments, and collaborate with Angus Buckling at U Exeter (UK) to test theoretical predictions in bacterial microcosm. Before starting my postdoc at Penn State, I obtained my BA (Biological Sciences with specialization in Neuroscience) from U. Chicago, and my PhD (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Minor in Applied Mathematics) from Cornell with Steve Ellner.
I am working to better understand how climate affects interactions between plants and herbivores. My work focuses on tracking the seasonal timing of life history events for the invasive thistle Carduus nutans and the biological control weevil Rhinocyllus conicus. I use information gathered from field experiments and from detailed observations of naturally occurring populations to find out how climate affects seasonal synchrony between the two species and to examine how synchrony affects population dynamics.