Research Interests (300 words)
The focus of my thesis is to elucidate the physiological and genetic mechanisms underlying niche variation in grasses, and to determine to what extent major niche transitions from tropical to temperate regions were facilitated by historical factors, such as phylogenetic history and past climate. Since my previous work was restricted to a single species, my aim was to find a project that would expand my understanding of plant evolution. My current research does just that. Not only am I utilizing my previously honed skills in stress physiology and experimental design, but I am now thinking about how different levels of stress responses (e.g. genetic, genomic, and whole-trait) have evolved and been constrained. Since starting at UVM, I have already gained a wealth of knowledge that has allowed me to assemble and annotate comparative transcriptomic data, and to identify differentially expressed candidate genes for future functional testing. Developing new methods to study complex plant traits, with very inexpensive tools, is something I cherished doing during my dissertation work.