I was introduced to ecology, evolution, and scientific research at the University of Georgia (UGA). Because of lack of exposure during my K-12 education in Alabama, I did not consider research tangible or attainable until my time at UGA where I fortunately met inspirational mentors and was provided opportunities to both conduct ecological research and to broaden my knowledge via diverse classes and travel experiences. Based on my K-12 education, I realized that many elementary and high schools do not provide positive experiences with science. I am committed to bringing scientific research and the topics of ecology and evolution to classrooms.
My dissertation research used guppies to ask important questions in evolutionary biology. I utilized experimental introductions and common garden experiments to investigate plasticity and evolution of cerebral laterality, genitalia, mating behavior, and many other traits in guppies. I also used guppies to develop and implement a number of education programs including a hands-on inquiry program with live guppy experiments that teaches evolution to middle and high school students.
My postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Denver allows me to explore issues in biology education while also continuing my biological research. With my mentor Robin Tinghitella, I am asking interesting questions about sexual selection and the evolution of behavior using field crickets. Simultaneously, I’m developing active-learning undergraduate and graduate courses and conducting research that explores inequality in biology education. My ultimate goal is to conduct research that fosters change so that the next cohort of scientists reflects the cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic background of our country.