University of Michigan
Museum of Zoology
1109 Geddes Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Collections Manager & Assistant Research Scientist
Field of Study
- Evolutionary patterns and processes of mammalian diversity
- Ecological and evolutionary implications of hybridization in mammals
- General natural history of mammalian species
- Ph.D., Texas Tech University
- M.S., Fort Hays State University
- B.A., University of Northern Iowa
The main focus of my research centers on the patterns and processes of mammalian diversity. In particular, I have concentrated my research on the evolutionary and ecological implications of hybridization in mammals. My dissertation research focused on studying the hybrid zone between two species of ground squirrel (i.e., Ictidomys parvidens and I. tridecemlineatus). Through genetics (i.e., gene sequencing and AFLPs) and ecological niche modeling, I answered questions regarding the historical biogeography of these species, current levels of hybridization, and the role the environment has played in determining locations of contact and subsequent potential for hybridization. Papers resulting from my research are in various stages of publication. Currently, I am in the process of developing a follow-up project to explore transcriptomes in these two species to find genes potentially involved with genetic isolation and speciation. I also am working on a project to reexamine the phylogeny of ground squirrels (genus Spermophilus [sensu lato]).
My Master’s research focused on identifying and characterizing the contact zone between the northern short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda) and the Elliot’s short-tailed shrew (B. hylophaga) in southwestern Iowa and northwestern Missouri. This study involved intensive fieldwork, field karyotyping, and AFLPs, which has led to the publication of three papers. I currently am evaluating the correlation between karyotypic variation and population-level genetic differences within the genus Blarina. In addition, I plan to evaluate possible hybridization between B. brevicauda and B. hylophaga and assess historical responses of the contact zone to climate change using ecological niche modeling.
My other research foci include systematics, taxonomy, and the general natural history of mammals. Typically, these research projects have stemmed from collaborative efforts with colleagues. Projects have included the molecular evolution of the Rpb3 gene in pocket gophers; invasive ecology of the gray squirrel; natural history of Mexican woodrats; dietary analysis between the bobcat and the ocelot; hantavirus prevalence in urban areas; and the distribution of the hispid cotton rat. Additional projects are in various stages of development.