Research Questions & Projects

As a broadly-trained evolutionary ecologist, I have developed an extensive tool kit of molecular tools that allows me to address a wide range of questions and collaborate with scientists across disciplines. I am especially interested in pursuing projects with potential applications in aquaculture, management, and conservation.

USING MOLECULAR MARKERS TO UNDERSTAND MICROEVOLUTIONARY PROCESSES & ECOLOGICAL PATTERNS

Connectivity and local adaptation in marine fishes across their ranges

Projects:

  • Disentangling spatial, environmental, and demographic signals in southern flounder.
  • Range-wide population structure of golden tilefish.
  • Patterns of neutral and adaptive genetic diversity in gafftops sail catfish.

Population-level effects of an oil spill on genetic diversity of demersal fishes

Projects:

  • Effect of Deepwater Horizon oil spill on genetic diversity of golden tilefish.

Genetic diversity of small populations

USING MOLECULAR MARKERS TO CHARACTERIZE & IDENTIFY INDIVIDUAL, POPULATIONS & SPECIES

DNA fingerprinting can be used to identify individuals and their relationships to each other with a variety of applications, including aquaculture.

Projects:

  • Parentage assignment of hatchery offspring.
  • Development of sex-specific markers for aquaculture and restoration purposes.

Mixed stock analysis can be used to determine the contribution of individual rivers and estuaries that form the natal habitat and/or nurseries of juveniles recruiting to populations offshore.

Projects:

Genetic barcoding can be used for species identification - even when the whole specimen is not available for morphological assessment.

Projects:

  • Gut content analysis of lemon sharks
  • Wildlife forensics of shark fins

Recent Publications

  • Population genetics and geometric morphometrics of the key silverside, Menidia conchorum, a marine fish in a highly-fragmented, inland habitat.

    Details PDF

  • Genetic Diversity of White Sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, in the Northwest Atlantic and Southern Africa.

    Details PDF

  • Genetic diversity and effective size of Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrhinchus oxyrhinchus river spawning populations estimated from the microsatellite genotypes of marine-captured juveniles

    Details PDF

  • Severe Inbreeding and Small Effective Number of Breeders in a Formerly Abundant Marine Fish

    Details PDF

  • Novel microsatellite loci for winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectus americanus)

    Details PDF

  • Novel microsatellite loci for white, Carcharodon carcharias and sandtiger sharks, Carcharias taurus (order Lamniformes)

    Details PDF

  • Flood pulse effects on benthic invertebrate assemblages in the hypolacustric interstitial zone of Lake Constance

    Details PDF

  • Genetic mixed-stock analysis of Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus in a heavily exploited marine habitat indicates the need for routine genetic monitoring

    Details PDF

  • Genetic mapping and comparative genomics to inform restoration enhancement and culture of southern flounder, Paralichthys lethostigma

    Details PDF

  • Population Structure of Atlantic Croakers from the Gulf of Mexico: Evaluating a Single‐Stock Hypothesis Using a Genomic Approach.

    Details PDF

  • These aren’t the loci you’e looking for: Principles of effective SNP filtering for molecular ecologists.

    Details PDF

Teaching

Courses

  • no current courses

Past courses:

  • Ecology and Evolution (Lecture & Lab, Towson University)
  • Biodiversity (Towson University)
  • Prospects of the Planet Earth (Stony Brook University)
  • Fundamental of Scientific Inquiry in Biological Sciences (Lab, Stony Brook University)

Teaching Philosphy

My teaching philosophy in the lab and classroom can be summarized in three statements:

Learn to ask the right questions, not just to have all the right answers.

The bad new is, beyond getting good grades and becoming the reigning champ at trivia night, just knowing a bunch of things alone will not get you very far. Google already knows everything. The good news is that there is a reward for what you can do with what you know - the purpose of knowing things is being able to frame challengin, thoughtful, and interesting questions. That’s where science starts and the fun begins!

My goal is to facilitate building a framework of conceptual understanding to critically assess and organize new ideas and to analyze data, draw major conclusions, and interpret it in a meaningful way.

The best way to learn to do something new is to ‘watch one, do one, teach one’.

In the classroom ‘listen/read/study, discuss & apply, teach & explain’ is probably a more accurate description of this concept. Regardless, science isn’t really fun until you get your hands dirty and engage with the material. When it comes to ‘do one’ - never be afraid to ask questions or get a better background understanding if you don’t understand a certain concept or a protocol - “measure twice, cut once”. Then, once you’ve got something down there is no better way to test how well you’ve mastered it than to try to teach someone else: “If you can’t explain it simply, you haven’t understood it”.

Nobody is expected to not make any mistakes, everybody is expected to learn from them.

Especially in the lab mistakes are going to happen. The important thing is to use those mistakes to improve your troubleshooting skills and your protocol/workflow to make sure they do not happen again the next time around. Similarly, try to learn from other people’s mistakes - you’ll find you don’t have time to make them all yourself!