I was born in Monterey, California but was born into a military family. This lifestyle doomed me to live a sporadic life bouncing between states for 18 years. Regardless of the city or state in which I found myself, the one thing that remained constant was nature. Wherever I went, there was always something new that the area of my previous home did not have. My ability to perceive the intricacies of nature around me was, without a doubt, fostered by my father. He often would take me on hikes and nature walks, an interest shared only between my father and me. However, despite this, I was certain that I would become a medical doctor, just like my father.
When I graduated high school, I enrolled at the University of Louisville due to the school’s prolific medical program. However, it only took 2 semesters for me to change my mind and pivot into the ecology program. I completed my Bachelor of Science in Biology with a track in ecology. During my undergrad, I conducted research on tradeoffs between sexual and asexual reproduction in dioicous mosses. My undergraduate education did a tremendous job at nurturing my blooming passion for botany and conservation; passions that persist more and more each day.
I chose to continue my graduate education at the University of Louisville because of my incredible advisor and the unique opportunity that Kentucky’s geology offers. My graduate research has blended karst geology and bryology. My primary project is investigating the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on bryophyte community assembly at karst cave entrances. Cave entrances have a unique ability to moderate the microclimate of the corresponding ecotone. I theorize that these entrances may serve as “habitat islands”; locations where species retreat once their original habitat has become intolerable. In addition, karst caves are incredibly delicate, and I am increasingly fascinated with their ability to withstand stress and disturbances. I wonder what role the cave entrance habitat island plays in that tolerance. In addition to the ecosystem ecology of bryophytes, I am also interested in the foliar fungal endophytes of bryophytes and what role those fungi play in their ecology.
Outside of academics, I am a part-time tutor and teacher for students with learning disabilities and differences. My hobbies include hiking, crocheting, reading, and making collages. I am an avid user of iNaturalist and am often taking photos of what might be trivial organisms but are incredibly interesting to observe! I often find a story of Constantine Rafinesque echoing in my mind; one in which Rafinesque was observed with his eyes fixed on the ground, constantly in search of new plants and animals. I, too, find myself staring at the ground in awe at the majesty of Earth. In the future, I would be interested in investigating the reliability of iNaturalist in citizen science bryology and the position of bryology in modern education.