I am an ecologist and entomologist interested in how insects respond to changes in the landscape - specifically those related to large-scale global changes in agriculture and climate. I use ecoinformatics approaches to explore questions and patterns related to insect ecology and global change along with lab and field experimentation to test theories and develop more robust, causal associations between changes in the landscape and those in insect behavior, populations, and communities. The ultimate goal of my work is to translate research findings into actions that protect insect biodiversity and sustain the ecological processes that they maintain. My work thus far has used bumble bees as a model system, and I have grown rather fond my familiar, fuzzy friends over the past 9 years.
Currently, I am a postdoctoral scholar with Claudio Gratton and James Crall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I’m working in tandem with folks here understand how interacting global change drivers, including climate change and agricutural practices, impact insect behavior and occurrence. To do this, I’ll also be helping develop and test new technologies to monitor insects in the field using remote cameras and computer vision methods.
Previously, I was a USDA NIFA postdoctoral fellow with Neal Williams investigating how bumble bee behavior and community composition respond to heat waves - an extreme weather event now commonplace in Californian landscapes.
I completed my PhD with Claudio Gratton at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2020 where I worked to understand the factors that drive bumble bee species to be relatively common or relatively rare. My hypothesis was that a shift in the abundance of flower (the sole source of food for bees) in time and space brought about by agroecosystem management (e.g., mass-flowering crops) has differentially impacted Wisconsin’s bumble bee community. To test this, I worked extensively with Bombus impatiens, Wisconsin’s most common bumble bee, to determine whether its dominance was a driven by its capacity to cope temporally variable resources. I also examined the diverging population patterns of Midwestern bumble bee species in response to agricultural intensification using historic agricultural census data and bumble bee records - taking the theory from my experimental work and applying and testing it using large, messy data sets.