In general I study how microbiomes impact host health, particularly in relation to fungal pathogens.
My first scientific interest was in conservation biology, studying the widespread and damaging amphibian fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, with Dr. Jamie Voyles in my home state of New Mexico. Although the relevance and impact of the research is what drew me to the project, I graduated from her lab with a deep love for microbiology. My goal became to understand how large-scale events such as disease outbreaks can hinge on small-scale interactions, such as the pairwise interactions of two microbes in a community.
Currently, I am a PhD candidate in Dr. Irene Newton's lab at Indiana University, where I now study microbiome x fungal pathogen interactions in honey bees. I have discovered a defensive symbiosis in honey bees in which a diet-associated symbiont, Bombella apis, protects bee brood from fungal infection. My goals are to better understand 1) what symbiont traits underlie its protective phenotype, and 2) how strain identity impacts this phenotype 3) and how strains associate with different colony niches. I hope to leverage the answers to these questions and develop strategies and/or applications to monitor and promote honey bee health.