The unifying theme of my research is investigation of the evolutionary factors that shape patterns of genetic variation in natural plant populations and the manner in which species-wide diversity is partitioned and maintained at various spatial and temporal scales. More specifically, my lab studies: i) contemporary gene flow using direct approaches, ii) historical patterns of gene movement over shallow and deeper temporal scales, and iii) long-distance seed dispersal and the tail of the dispersal kernel empirically. We often explore the role of both pollen-mediated and seed-mediated gene dispersal to address these questions. This research is particularly pertinent in the context of nearly ubiquitous, anthropogenic habitat disturbance and accelerating climate change. I am especially interested in studying epiphytes which account for approximately 10% of all vascular plant species, and orchids because of their varied evolutionary strategies and somewhat unique biology. Our lab employs a variety of population genetic tools to address these questions.
- American Orchid Society (Co-PI with PA Smallwood). Does mycorrhizal specificity vary across the range of Cypripedium acaule (Orchidaceae) and how does this relationship influence the orchid’s ability to establish new populations and expand its range? 2019.
- Garden Club of America (Co-PI with PA Smallwood). Variation in mycorrhizal species associating with Cypripedium parviflorum (Orchidaceae) across a broad geographic range in eastern North America. 2019.
- LACSI Ambassador Faculty Travel Award, UGA. Characterization of mycorrhizal symbionts of sympatric Lepanthes species (Orchidaceae) and investigation of their possible role in driving orchid diversification. 2019.
- The Georgia Botanical Society - Marie Mellinger Research Grant (Co-PI with PA Smallwood). The role of fungal symbionts in the establishment of new populations and range expansion of Cypripedium acaule (Orchidaceae). 2018.
- NSF DEB – Evolutionary Ecology (Co-PI with JD Karron, RJ Mitchell, E Porcher & C Devaux). Collaborative Research: Evolutionary tradeoffs between outcross siring success and selfing: the role of ecological context in the stability of mixed mating systems. 2017 – 2020.
Ph.D Plant Evolutionary Biology, University of Georgia 2003