Education: B.A., Biology, Carleton College 1999; Ph.D., Evolutionary Biology, Indiana University 2004
I am fascinated by biological diversity and by the simultaneous operation of adaptive and non-adaptive evolutionary processes within organisms, populations, and lineages. Sexual reproduction, with all its complexities, encompasses all of these interests. In particular, I am interested in using comparisons of sexual and asexual individuals, lineages, and genomes to better understand the advantages and disadvantages of sexuality, evolutionary constraints that limit asexual success, and why sex persists in some natural populations but not others.
Because sex is distinguished from asexual reproduction by the production of genetically variable offspring, a deeper understanding of the benefits of sex will help illuminate the value of diversity within and among populations, species, and ecological communities. More broadly, our research program is relevant to scientists who use our snail study system as a model for ecotoxicology, host-parasite coevolution, and the causes and consequences of biological invasions. Our lab group is also very committed to training, mentoring, and community engagement, with the broader goal of increasing the equitability and inclusiveness of science. We approach this goal in a variety of ways, from our award-winning partnership with the National Center for Science Education leading a grassroots effort to develop science booster clubs to regular collaborations with biology students at a local high school to our central role in organizing the annual Iowa City Darwin Day celebration.