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Faculty Fellow in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University

I am an ecologist studying the links between animal biodiversity and forest resilience in a changing climate.

My research focuses on the interactions among species that sustain diverse and functioning vegetation communities. I ask how human activities disrupt plant communities by changing these interactions, and how we can design evidence-based policies to protect and restore them. I focus in particular on the ways animals determine how plants respond to global change drivers such as climate change. The approaches I use integrate data science with field studies and are grounded in natural history.

Seed dispersal by animals has been a major through line of my work. Roughly half of plant species rely on seed-dispersing animals for movement and regeneration. My work as a PhD student and postdoc as part of the Ecology of Bird Loss Project focused on the consequences of seed disperser loss on Guam’s forests following the accidental introduction of the brown treesnake. More recently, I have expanded this scope to macroecological scales by leveraging large biodiversity datasets. This work asks how seed dispersers influence plants’ ability to adapt to climate change and recover from deforestation and forest degradation.

Experience

  • –present
    Faculty Fellow in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University

Education

  • 2015 
    University of Washington, PhD