I’m a Master’s student at Utah State University, getting my degree in Biology and Ecology under the direction of Dr. Will Pearse and Dr. Paul Wolf. My thesis research is centered on species delimitation genetics in two different contexts.
The first of these is focused on operational taxonomic units (OTUs), and utilizing phylogenetic techniques to inform the DNA similarity thresholds used to determine OTU boundaries.
The second context concerns clarifying the genomic relations of the Primula cusickiana complex, a species complex of plants native to the Great Basin region of the Western United States.
MSc in Biology and Ecology, Present
Utah State University
BSc in Neuroscience, 2014
University of Nevada, Reno
Operational taxonomic units (OTUs) are used to group similar microbial taxa together based on DNA sequence similarity, but ambiguity over the value used to determine OTU boundaries persists. My research looks to inform OTU thresholds using a family of phylogenetic branch length transformations, Pagel’s transformations, and to guide species delimitation by examining the evolutionary context of the relevant individuals.
The MAD package enables access to a wide variety of published trait data through a simple command interface. I’m working with others here at Utah State University in the development and testing of this R package.
The four members of the Primula cusickiana species complex were each historically classified as their own species, before a 2001 review subsumed them to varieties of the same species (due to largely similar morphologies). Previous research has demonstrated a substantial degree of genetic difference between populations of Primula cusickiana var. maguirei, the complex member found in Logan Canyon. My work aims to genomically compare these complex members through GBS techniques, and place the population structure of P. cusickiana var. maguirei into a wider context.
In contribution to a global database of soil temperatures and associated information, I’m working with the Pearse Lab to help with collecting and formatting temperature data from numerous fieldsites around Logan, Utah.
Symbiota2 is an update to the structure of the Symbiota software platform, a widely used biodiversity data management tool. I’m working on an R package that will allow users to access Symbiota2 function calls within the R environment.