Research                                                                           

My research focuses on gaining insight into biogeographic, ecological and evolutionary processes, primarily through the use of genetic techniques. Our lab is interested in both the mechanisms that drive these processes as well as how they have influenced organismal characteristics at a variety of levels. Related to these topics are questions of systematics, bioinformatics and population biology.

Current Research

    Presently, I am investigating the population dynamics of Kemp's ridley nesting beaches through genetic analyses of nesting females as well as the establishment of a long term, rigorously monitored "index nesting beach" project at Tecolutla, Mexico. These research and monitoring efforts will address high priority areas in sea turtle conservation and more specifically in the NMFS' Kemp's ridley recovery plan. 

    Additionally, we have been collaborating with researchers at the University of Florida, The Citadel and the University of Lund, Sweden, to study the invasion of a Cheloniid-specific, burrowing barnacle, Stephanolepas muricata into the Atlantic Ocean. This species was considered to be endemic to the Indo-Pacific until 2011 when it was first documented in the western Atlantic. Because individuals are relatively difficult to detect, it is unclear how long S. muricata has been present in the Atlantic and how it arrived there. We have begun a global genetic study to determine possible routes of invasion into the Atlantic, potential host species specificity, connectivity between turtle populations and pathways of infection between turtle species with non-overlapping niches.

Other research areas include the use of next-gen sequencing technology as a conservation management tool, understanding transmission routes of marine zoonotic diseases, and species boundaries - particularly related to cryptic species.