I am interested in understanding how and why complex traits and behaviors (especially mating systems and behaviors) evolve. My approach is focused on the evolutionary impact of selection, which is at the level of the genome. In my research, I aim to identify and predict signatures of selection at the genomic level, and am interested in how those signatures in turn shape traits. My research incorporates theoretical, simulation modeling approaches and empirical, real-world studies of natural populations that take advantage of next-generation, high-throughput sequencing technology.
Most of my empirical work has been on Syngnathids, the fish family comprised of seahorses, pipefishes, and seadragons. These fish are particularly interesting from a sexual selection point of view because they exhibit male pregnancy, in which the males care for the developing embryos. In many species, the females also have elaborate display traits to attract the males (featured in the image above), and some of research is involved in understanding how sexual selection shapes those traits.
In addition to my research, I also have a citizen science project called Pipefish World, in which I encourage people who find syngnathids while at the beach or out fishing to send me a photograph and the location where the fish was found. I then add the photographs to the website and include everyone who participates in a twice-yearly newsletter. Check out the website for ways to get involved!