Florida Institute of Technology

Dissertation: Genetic patterning of bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) populations in response to climate change

My PhD dissertation focuses on the genetic relatedness and adaptation of bull sharks to near-shore nursery habitats. In the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, bull sharks were recently found to have expanded their habitat north of the Indian River Lagoon on the east coast of Florida, which was previously their northernmost nursery habitat. My research is looking into the genetic connectivity of this new population to previously established bull shark nursery habitats, to better understand how bull sharks are currently moving in response to climate change. In addition, I will be expanding this study to incorporate more bull shark nurseries within the Gulf of Mexico, South Florida/Bahamas and northeastern Atlantic coast to identify local adaptation, and predictivly model how future climate scenarios could impact bull shark movement and habitat use. 


San Francisco State University

Thesis: The role of posterior HoxA genes in the evolution of novel fins

My master's thesis work focused on gene expresion in the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea) during pectoral fin, pelvic fin, and clasper development. Specifically, I was looking at the expression of the homeobox (HOX) A genes during early fin developmental stages. Using In-vitro fertilization, I observed HoxA11 and HoxA13 expression at previously undocumented stages, showing that the posterior HoxA genes play an important role during fin devleopment. You can read more about this study here.

Undergraduate Research

Western Illinois University 

My undergraduate research focused on identifying parasitic white grubs (Posthodiplostomum minimum) host specificity in fishes caught in Spring Lake, Illinois. This work was done to aid a Master's student thesis, and involved detailed fish dissections to identify not only which (if any) species of fish were preferred but where in the fish the highest density of parasites were found.