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I currently act as a mentor to dozens of undergraduate researchers involved in the global Tiny Earth initiative aimed at addressing the world’s antibiotic crisis. Research projects examine environmental influences on antibiotic activity in bacteria collected in Wisconsin soils. My PhD research (featured in National Geographic) primarily explored mechanisms of monogamy in California mice, specifically investigating how intersexual ultrasonic communication, hormones and the social environment interact to regulate pair bonding and mate fidelity. More recently, my research interests have dovetailed with teaching, examining the positive impacts of active learning pedagogy in undergraduate biology education.
August 2015 - present
- Biocore Laboratory Teaching Assistant
- Biocore 486 Laboratory. Student driven group experiments. Small class size. Intensive student training for scientific writing, oral presentation, biological rationale and statistics.
The world faces two seemingly unrelated challenges—a shortfall in the STEM workforce and increasing antibiotic resistance among bacterial pathogens. We address these two challenges with Tiny Earth, an undergraduate research course that excites students about science and creates a pipeline for antibiotic discovery.
The misuse of antibiotics selects for bacterial pathogens that are drug resistant, creating increased demand for new treatments. Soil is a prime environment to study for possible antibiotic-producing organisms due to its high concentration and diversity of microbial communities. Human activity such as agriculture, industrialization, and waste manag...
Threshold concepts are fundamental to a discipline and, once understood, transform students' understanding and perception of the subject. Despite the value of threshold concepts as a learning "portal" for heuristic purposes, there is limited empirical evidence of threshold crossing or achieving mastery. As a threshold concept, biological variation...
Despite recent exciting research about pair bonding, little is known about how mammalian vocalizations change with the initiation and maintenance of pair bonding in monogamous species. Moreover, even less is known about the significance of pair bond resilience in the face of social challenges. In the strictly monogamous California mouse (Peromyscus...
Most studies examining rodent ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) have investigated pericopulatory vocal behaviour in polygynous rodents, while vocalizations related to pair bond maintenance in monogamous rodents remain unexplored. In the monogamous California mouse, Peromyscus californicus, we used ultrasonic playbacks and post-playback social interac...
Many individuals with Parkinson disease (PD) have difficulty producing normal speech and voice, resulting in problems with interpersonal communication and reduced quality of life. Translational animal models of communicative dysfunction have been developed to assess disease pathology. However, it is unknown whether acoustic feature changes associat...
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that leads to a wide range of motor and nonmotor deficits. Specifically, voice and swallow deficits manifest early, are devastating to quality of life, and are difficult to treat with standard medical therapies. The pathological hallmarks of PD include accumulation of the presynapt...
The steroid hormone testosterone (T) is a well-known mediator of male sexual behavior in vertebrates. However, less is known about T's rapid effects on sexual behavior, particularly those involving ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs), a mode of communication that can influence mate acquisition in rodents. Using the monogamous California mouse, Peromysc...
Most studies of mate choice have focused on female preference for male traits because it is generally assumed that since males provide less parental investment they are not choosy. However, if males suffer missed opportunity costs by mating with lower quality females, selection should favor males with the ability to discriminate among females. We t...