Research Overview

We study how ecological and evolutionary processes play out in response to human induced changes in the environment. Our research aims to establish links between genotype and phenotype that will aid in predicting ecological and evolutionary trajectories of marine invertebrate taxa. We approach our research in an integrative and collaborative fashion, combining natural history, physiological and behavioral experiments, and molecular biology with large-scale genomics data. We aim to uncover mechanistic understanding of how marine invertebrates persist in rapidly changing habitats. Research in the lab fits within the following broad framework:

1) Ecological and evolutionary epigenetics

Epigenetics are a suite of biochemical modifications to DNA and associated proteins that can have a complex, context-dependent, effect on transcription. Our lab is interested in how epigenetic modifications link to gene regulation associated with organismal responses to the environment.

2) The genetic and molecular basis of organismal responses to multiple stressors

Genetic background plays a substantial role in molecular responses to environmental change. Many broadcast spawning marine invertebrates harbor high genetic variation across wide geographic ranges, which will contribute to the role adaptive processes will play out in response to global change. Our lab is interested in how genotypic and phenotypic variation amongst individuals contributes to organismal responses to the environment.

3) The influence of phenotypic plasticity on organismal responses to rapid environmental change

Phenotypic plasticity contributes to short-term responses to environmental change, however, many outstanding questions remain as to how phenotypic plasticity evolves and interacts with adaptive processes across short-time scales. Our lab is interested in how phenotypic plasticity contributes to the maintenance of populations in response to global change, especially in widely distributed, highly clonal marine invertebrates. We work with ecologically relevant marine invertebrate models, including corals, sea urchins and jellyfish to answer fundamental questions related to this broad framework.