I am a native to Connecticut who fell in love with Vermont after spending several summers with my aunt in beautiful Monkton. In 2001, I came to Burlington and started an undergraduate career at UVM. As an undergraduate, I conducted research in the geology department with my advisor Dr. Char Mehrtens on the Middlebury Formation and conodont biostratigraphy. I also worked and conducted research in Dr. Sara Helms Cahan's lab, examining the factors that drive differences in developmental rates between the "J1" hybrid lineage and P. rugosus harvester ants. After graduating from UVM, I spent six months working for the State of Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources. There, I worked side-by-side with citizen scientists monitoring water quality the process of eutrophication in over 50 of Vermont's lakes and ponds. My work with VT ANR piqued my interest in aquatic ecosystems and anthropogenic influences in aquatic ecosystem dynamics.
As a PhD student at UVM, I will work with Drs. Nicholas Gotelli and Bryan Ballif on a project aimed at identifying proteomic indicators of aquatic ecosystem tipping points. My research combines ecological experiments, proteomic analysis, and quantitative modeling to identify proteomic biomarkers that serve as indicators of an impending state change from oligotrophic to eutrophic and the lead-time necessary to prevent that state change. Using the microecosystem contained within the northern pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) as a model system, we seek to experimentally test two hypotheses: (1) that these indicators can reliably predict aquatic ecosystem state changes and (2) that these indicators can be used to prevent state changes. It is my hope that my research, in addition to broadening our knowledge of ecosystem state changes and tipping points, will have implications for conservation and management of larger aquatic ecosystems.