Ecology, Evolution, & Marine Biology

Research Interests

My research focuses on how declines in wildlife (or "defaunation") can have cascading effects on numerous processes, including nutrient flux, energy flow within and across systems, carbon dynamics, and disease transmission. I'm working to better understand the relationship between defaunation and climate using a large-scale field experiment in south-central California, where I'm studying how the removal of deer and elk impacts plant and arthropod communities across a strong climate gradient.

Mentoring Experiences

I chose to pursue a research career because I wanted to make a real and lasting difference in the world. Current environmental problems and social justice issues are inextricably bound, and so I see educating and inspiring the next generation as a critical component of my mission as an ecologist and conservation biologist. Since beginning my graduate studies, I have mentored 2-5 students each year, both independently and through participation in campus programs such as Eureka, Gene Lucas Scholars, and UC Leads. My primary role as a mentor is to guide undergraduates through the research process – from brainstorming questions and crafting projects that are interesting and achievable to teaching them necessary lab, field, and analytical skills. Five of my students have presented their work at research colloquiums, and four of my mentees are currently co-authoring manuscripts with me. So far, all of my mentees who have graduated have continued to pursue research careers through internships, private industry jobs, or graduate school.

What the Award Means to ​Her

I am very honored to receive this award, but the biggest reward is in working with these wonderful undergraduates! They truly deserve all of the credit. I know they are going to go on to achieve great things, and I just do my best to keep up with them. Personally, I never would have arrived at this point in my career were it not for the strong mentors who have supported me; I know firsthand that such support can be radically transformative for a student’s career. I feel unbelievably fortunate to have found my academic family.