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How an individual perceives environmental stress (e.g. social, physiological, nutritional, toxins) and responds at the molecular level (genetic and cellular changes), can affect how that individual behaves, its ability to reproduce, and its lifespan.

I am currently working on projects that address the following questions: 1) How do gene networks that link physiological stress and life-history traits evolve? 2) What is the persistence (transient, lifetime, or transgenerational) of epigenetic modification to the genome in response to physiological stress in ectotherms, and do these modifications play a role in adaptive acclimation within and across generations.

As an assistant professor at Auburn, I study how an individual responds to environmental stress (e.g. social, physiological, nutritional, toxins) can affect how that individual behaves, its ability to reproduce, and its lifespan.

Ongoing Research Projects:

  • ´╗┐Evolution of Cold Tolerance, using Drosophila
  • Effects of temperature, food abundance, and toxins on molecular networks and life history traits, using Daphnia
  • Transgenerational effects of dietary stress (or perception there of)
  • Genetic variation in fetal programming
  • Evolution of molecular networks across amniotes (Reptiles and Mammals)
  • Evolution of stress response and life-history trade-offs in natural populations of garter snake

Previous Reseach:

  • Natural selection in lizard populations: Sexual Selection/Mating Systems; Developmental genes; Telomeres; Molecular Markers
  • Fisheries Population Genetics and speciation/hybridization
  • Evolution of metabolic processes within the Reptiles (including birds)
  • Conservation Genetics of Gopher Tortoises

Research interests:

  • Evolution of Molecular Stress Response Networks
  • Maternal Effects / Epigenetics
  • Life History Trade-offs (i.e. reproduction, growth and aging)
  • Biology of Aging
  • Mitochondrial Energetics and Evolution
  • Population and Conservation genetics

Major Projects:

  • Functional Genomics in the Repeated Evolution of Dwarfism in Island Reptiles
  • Interactions among Environmental Stressors: Eastern Fence Lizard
  • Function and Evolution of the Insulin and Insulin-like Signaling Network across Reptiles
  • Evolution of Spillover Events


  • Stress Response:Transcriptomics - Epigenetics - Physiology - Performance
  • Life History Trade-offs (aging, growth,reproduction)
  • Population/Conservation Genomics
  • Reptile Genomics & Transcriptomics


Subject areas: Evolutionary Genetics & Systematics, Physiological Adaptations and Functional Genomics

Biological Science
PhD, Iowa State University, Genetics, 2012
MS, University of South Florida, Zoology, 2003
BS, Iowa State University, Zoology, 1998