Ph.D. , Duke University 2006
A fundamental goal of evolutionary biology is to explain how populations become reproductively isolated species. Does speciation occur in allopatry or do populations diverge in the presence of some gene flow? What is the genetic basis of reproductive isolation? What are the evolutionary forces that create and maintain variation in speciation genes? My research tackles these questions in an emerging model system: the Mimulus guttatus species complex, a group of closely related, ecologically diverse wildflowers that exhibit tremendous variation in reproductive isolation between populations and species. I use a range of approaches – from field and greenhouse experiments to genetic mapping and bioinformatics – to investigate the genetic mechanisms and evolutionary dynamics of speciation.