Research

Best Practices For Teaching Science In The Classroom
As a science education fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder, I assist new faculty with transforming their courses to make them more engaging and to use real-time data to improve their teaching. With my mentor Andy Martin and collaborator Nolan Kane, we are re-designing our introductory evolutionary biology course so that “lectures” are actually active learning and problem solving sessions that provide instructors with daily feedback on student learning so they can adapt their teaching. I also have a research project that utilizes long-term data sets from our introductory biology courses; we hope to determine what aspects of group work are the most helpful to students.

Designing Effective Evolution Curriculum 
As a postdoctoral fellow in the education department at City College of New York / The American Museum of Natural History, I worked with Dr. Yael Wyner , developing and evaluating curriculum for secondary school students on ecology and evolution. I co-developed a workbook of case studies called “Ecology Disrupted” which uses current issues in conservation biology to teach students about key principles in ecology and evolution, which is currently being tested and evaluated in introductory environmental science and evolution ourses. I also co-developed curriculum and assessments for the Unifying Life project which uses the Leaf Snap mobile app to help students identify leaves and classify plants by their evolutionary linage

Rapid Evolution in an Invasive Butterfly 
I did my PhD under Dr. Joel Kingsolver at the university of North Carolina at Chapel hill, where I studied rapid evolution in the invasive cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae). The cabbage white is native to Europoe and was introduced to North American in the 1860s and  to Japan in the 1760s. Because the cabbage white thrives from the arctic to the sub-tropics, it is an excellent model for studying insect invasions as well as for understanding how native species might respond to climate change. I studied four populations of butterflies in the U.S. (Nova Scotia, North Carolina, Washington, and Michigan) and two in Japan (Kyoto and Sapporo) and compared their growth rates in different climatic conditions. Dr. Naota Ohsaki of the Laboratory of Insect Ecology at Kyoto University was my advisor during my field work in Japan.

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Measuring Phenotypic Plasticity

I’m also interested in how phenotypic plasticity (the ability to express different traits depending on the environment) can be measured.  When traits are measured in more than two environments, it becomes difficult to measure and compare the variability of that trait.  With collaborators Joel Kingsolver, Heidi MacLean, Dr. Josh Auld and Dr. Rick Relyea, I developed new methods to quantify plasticity in non-linear reaction norms.  This work as supported by a fellowship from the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.