• Research Expertise

Population Genetics, Genomics, Ecological Epigenetics, Conservation Genetics, Ancient DNA

  • Future Research Directions
  • Adaptation of genomic and epigenetic analysis tools for improved study of ancient DNA and non-invasively collected samples
  • Genomics and epigenomics of species of conservation concern
  • Genomics and epigenomics of wildlife disease
  • Academic Qualifications
  • PhD 2016

    Genetics

    University of Arizona

Dissertation Title: Conservation genetics and epigenetics of pronghorn, Antilocapra americana

Dissertation Aims:

  • Estimate epigenetic variation in Sonoran pronghorn subspecies relative to American subspecies
  • Characterize genetic variation within and between pronghorn subspecies
  • Define taxonomy of extirpated populations of pronghorn in California and Baja, Mexico

Supervisor: Dr. Melanie Culver

Committee Members: Dr. Rebecca Mosher (UA), Dr. David Christianson (UA), Dr. Christina Richards (U. South Florida)

  • Graduate Certificate Fall 2015

    College Teaching

    University of Arizona

  • B.S. 2008

    Biology

    University of New Mexico

Honors Thesis Title: Direct interactions between pre-mRNA and the DEAD-box Prp5 protein in the commitment complex of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae spliceosome

Honors Thesis Committee: Dr. Stephanie Ruby (supervisor), Dr. Mary Anne Nelson

  • Research Experience
  • 2011-2016
    Dissertation Work | University of Arizona
    My work in the Culver lab focused on population genetics and ecological epigenetics of two species, the endangered Sonoran pronghorn and the threatened crested caracara. I employed microsatellite genotyping, mitochondrial sequencing, and MS-AFLP epigenotyping in these pursuits.
  • 2011
    Research Rotation
    Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    I rotated in the lab of Dr. Noah Whiteman. The Whiteman lab studies the genomics of species interactions. I performed hiTAIL PCR to sequence the allene oxide synthase gene in Cardamine cordifolia and 3’5’ RACE PCR to sequence the glutathione S-transferase transcript in Scaptomyza flava.
  • 2010
    Research Rotation
    Department of Immunology, University of Arizona
    I rotated in the lab of Dr. Maggie So. The So lab studies the evolution of pathogenesis in the bacterial genus Neisseria. I explored the genomes of two pathogenic species, N. meningitidis and N. gonorrhoeae, to find DNA uptake sequences (DUSs). I then calculated the relative prevalence of DUSs within newly acquired genes.
  • 2009-2011
    Research Technician
    Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arizona
    I worked in the lab of Dr. Matthew Cordes. The Cordes lab studies the evolution of protein structure. My major project dealt with verifying a putative “evolutionary code” behind direct interactions between nucleotides and amino acids. I adapted a bacterial one-hybrid system for determining Cro protein substrate specificity.
  • 2009
    Research Technician
    Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of New Mexico
    I continued work related to my honors thesis in the Ruby lab. I developed a purification scheme of non-denatured His-tagged Prp5p.
  • 2006-2008
    Undergraduate Researcher
    Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of New Mexico
    I conducted research for my honors thesis in the lab of the late Dr. Stephanie Ruby. The Ruby lab studied pre-mRNA splicing in yeast. I studied the role of Prp5p in pre-mRNA splicing. I developed an in vitro UV cross-linking assay for detection of direct binding of Prp5p and radiolabeled pre-mRNA in yeast whole cell extract.
  • Scholarships & Awards
  • 2011-2014
    NSF IGERT in Comparative Genomics
    The prestigious Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) is a National Science Foundation funded program providing a $30,000 stipend and training in functional, computational, and evolutionary genomics. I received three one-year fellowships.
  • 2013 & 2014
    Summer Institute for Statistical Genetics Travel Award
    In the years of 2013 & 2014 combined, I was awarded funds ($2275) to cover attendance of 4 modules and travel assistance.
  • 2008
    University of New Mexico S-CAP Travel Grant
    The Student Conference Award Program (S-CAP) is awarded to undergraduate and graduate students to help cover travel costs associated with research presentation. I received $600 for travel to the 2008 RNA Society Meeting.
  • 2008
    Honorable Mention for presentation of a poster at UNM Biology Research Day
  • 2007 & 2008
    NSF S-STEM Scholarship
    S-STEM is awarded to exceptional undergraduate students in STEM disciplines. The award provides $5000 towards tuition per academic year. S-STEM also provides career development opportunities in the form of workshops and career fairs. I received two S-STEM awards.
  • 2007
    National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant
    The SMART grant is awarded to third and fourth year undergraduate students in STEM disciplines with GPAs above 3.0. I received $2000.
  • Teaching & Mentoring
  • Fall 2015
    College Teaching Practicum
    I have completed a graduate certificate in college teaching. The program prepares academics for teaching careers focusing the learner-centered teaching philosophy.
  • Fall 2015
    Guest Lecturer – Conservation Genetics; University of Arizona
    I prepared lessons for four class periods covering natural selection, mutation, migration, drift, and neutral theory. The course is cross-listed for undergraduate and graduate students. I re-engineered the content to implement learner-centered teaching methods.
  • Fall 2015
    Teaching Assistant – Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Arizona
    I was the teaching assistant for Dr. Lisa Elfring. My duties included facilitating group discussions, holding tutoring sessions, and grading.
  • Fall 2014
    Teaching Assistant – Introductory Biology Lab, University of Arizona
    I was the sole lecturer for two introductory biology laboratory sections. I was also tasked with grading for this course.
  • Fall 2014
    Guest Lecturer – Conservation Genetics; University of Arizona
    I presented a lecture on forensic genetic applications in conservation.
  • 2013-2014
    Mentor to Tucson High School Students
    I have guided several high school students through their senior research projects. They have learned genetic lab techniques and conservation theory.
  • Spring 2014
    Guest Lecturer – Conservation Biology; University of Arizona
    I presented a lecture on the applications of genetics in wildlife conservation to an undergraduate course.
  • Fall 2015
    Guest Lecturer – Wildlife Management, University of Arizona
    I presented two lectures on the application of genetics in wildlife management and led students through laboratory exercises in this undergraduate course.
  • 2012-2015
    Graduate Student Guide for Visiting Middle School Students
    I have hosted several small groups of 8th graders interested in genetics. I discussed my project, took them on a tour of the lab, and engaged them in a small molecular genetics procedure, such as extracting DNA or setting up PCR reactions.
  • Summer 2010
    Arizona Science Teacher Advancement and Research Training (AZ-START)
    I mentored a Tucson middle school science teacher as part of the AZ-START program. Over 8 weeks, I taught her to perform typical biochemical assays and procedures, discussed ways to incorporate the scientific method into her curriculum, and assisted her in putting together a poster presentation.
  • Software and Programming Experience

I have experience programming in Perl, Python, and R. I am proficient in operating UNIX systems. I have experience utilizing the University of Arizona’s super computing system. I have utilized a variety of algorithms and software packages in my research, including PAML, msatcommander, Structure, GeneLand, QDD, ClustDB, Bowtie2, Cufflinks, BEAST, GenAlEx, and Velvet.

  • Academic Associations

Tucson Women in STEM (TWiSTEM)

2013 – present

Board member – January through May 2013

  • Workshops Attended
  • Women in Computer Science Programming Workshop
    April 2015
    University of Arizona; Tucson, AZ
    Modules: Python, C
  •  19th Summer Institute in Statistical Genetics
    July 2014
    University of Washington; Seattle, WA
    Module: Probability and Statistical Inference
  • 18th Summer Institute in Statistical Genetics
    July 2013
    University of Washington; Seattle, WA
    Modules: Population Genetics and Association Mapping, Bayesian Statistics for Genetics, and Introduction to R
  • Fieldwork Safety Workshop
    2010
    University of Arizona; Tucson, AZ