My interest in biology began in high school, especially after learning about the alternation of generations in the plant life cycle. My interest in biology continued in college where I completed my B.S. at UC Davis (Go Aggies!) in Biological Sciences with a Plant Biology emphasis. My undergrad course studies had a strong focus on cellular and molecular biology principles. Bolstering my molecular skills, I conducted my undergraduate research project in Dr. Julin Maloof's Lab at UC Davis. I implemented real-time qPCR to characterize differential gene expression in plant tissues (including the shoot and apical meristem) in response to shade using the model Solanum lycopersicum (tomato). During my senior year of course work, however, I was exposed to evolutionary biology. From this I knew I wanted to study evolution and in particular I wanted to study macroevolution and phylogenetics in order to understand the origin and maintenance of life's diversity.
After I graduated I worked in Dr. Santiago Ramirez's Lab, also at UC Davis, where I studied the evolution of floral scent chemistry in the tropical orchid genus Gongora. I grew so much as a scientist and biologist during my two years in the Ramirez lab. I learned practical wet bench, computing and field skills as well as intangible critical thinking skills. It was also my first exposure to the scientific publication and peer-review process.
In 2015 I joined the EvoEco Lab (Dr. Marc Johnson's Lab) at the University of Toronto to begin my graduate studies. The EvoEco Lab is a diverse research lab which has exposed me to questions that span across biological levels from the genome to the ecosystem. During my graduate research I have continued to improve upon my molecular, computational, and field skills as well as solidify my interests in basic evolution, phylogenetics, and plant diversity. I have enjoyed my time in the EvoEco Lab collaborating with my labmates and improving my 'Canadian-ness'.
I am a strong believer in encouraging the pursuit of knowledge since so far my personal pursuit has provided me great experiences in amazing places and given me enduring friendships. I am also passionate about promoting scientific literacy and as a researcher I am continually looking for creative ways to communicate science effectively and enthusiastically to broad audiences. My teaching experience during grad school has been very fulfilling in these regards. I enjoy teaching through enthusiasm by incorporating recent research into examples and providing the tools to empower the student to become the expert.
I grew up in California and I think that there will always be some California sunshine in me. I love California's huge 'backyard.' I was a wilderness and white water rafting guide for Outdoor Adventures during my undergrad where I lead trips in Yosemite, Point Reyes and along the South Fork of the American River. I swim for Ontario Masters and occasionally compete in my favorite event the 200m free. When I am not working on my research I enjoying hiking, swimming, snowboarding, socializing, petting my two cats, painting, and daydreaming about Californian sunshine and wearing flip-flops!