I recently completed a Ph.D. in Plant, Insect and Microbial Sciences in the Entomology Emphasis Area with a concurrent certification in Conservation Biology and am currently a post-doctoral research scholar at North Carolina State University. My research at NC State involves studying the ecology and management of the invasive fruit fly, Drosophila suzukii, a pest of soft skinned fruits (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.). This research is a great opportunity to expand my experience into agricultural systems and biological control.
Prior to completing my doctoral research studying coccinellid communities in Missouri, I completed a Masters in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology documenting the seasonal natural history of trap-jaw ants (Odontomachus brunneus) in north Florida. Before deciding to join the realm of academia, I earned a Masters in Science Education and taught high school for two and a half years. From all of these experiences, I have a clear idea of my desired career: one within the realm of academia. Ultimately, my goal is to become a professor, maintaining an active laboratory as well as teaching courses both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
I believe in the importance of rigorous classroom studies, as well as research experiences for students- I would not be where I am today without the research opportunities that were afforded to me as an undergraduate at the University of Missouri. During both my M.S. and Ph.D. programs, I was able to give several undergraduate students a similar opportunity and truly enjoyed the experience; being able to work one-on-one with young researchers and teach them the skills of project design and implementation from start to finish was incredible!
Being able to mentor undergraduates, in addition to my teaching responsibilities, has further cemented my goal of becoming a professor- I love being able to teach, do my own research, and guide young biologists in developing into research scientists. Throughout my graduate studies, I have worked to expand my own background in the fields of entomology and ecology, gain experience in project design, increase my research skill set and learn the invaluable art of grant procurement.
From a research perspective, I am beginning the work from which I intend to one day build my own research program, pursuing ecological questions pertaining to population and community dynamics, plant-insect interactions, how these interactions respond to anthropogenic influences, and how these interactions may be exploited for effective biological control of pest organisms.