Research Interests

Since my days in graduate school I have been interested in questions about the origins of social and symbiotic/parasitic interactions within and between species. I have always been interested in non-model insects such as beetles, aphids and gall midges, and I use tools and techniques spanning ecology to genomics. We use a combination of tools and techniques from evolutionary biology, molecular genetics, and ecology. We emphasize the value of appreciation for natural history, and of integration across fields.

As of 2018, current projects include:

  • the evolution and behavioral ecology of social behavior in insects, with a particular focus on social behavior in aphids
  • the evolution and functional biology of host use traits in Aphis nerii on milkweed (led by Stephanie Birnbaum, PhD student)
  • the evolution of human pregnancy, in the context of pre-term birth (with Antonis Rokas, Lou Muglia and the March of Dimes)
  • patterns and consequences of heteroplasmy in Daucus (with Jen Mandel at U. of Memphis, as part of a project she had with Dave McCauley)
  • and as an aspirational  project, I am looking for someone to come help me restart work on milkweed leaf beetles and their parasites, which I has always  fascinated me