I’m a Research Scientist working with Steven Roberts in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle and Mackenzie Gavery at the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center. My research leverages state-of-the-art genomics tools to study environment-physiology interactions within marine organisms, with a particular emphasis on the molecular mechanisms that make aquaculture species within Washington State resilient to environmental change. Through my work I routinely conduct field and laboratory experiments to generate large-scale ‘omics’ datasets (e.g. epigenomics, proteomics, and metabolomics) that can be used to characterize the genetic diversity present within natural populations and aid in conservation efforts and the development of criteria for broodstock selection within the aquaculture industry. To process these diverse datasets, I develop and implement bioinformatics pipelines for data normalization, statistical analyses, and biological pathway analyses. I use an open access online lab notebook and GitHub to publicly share my analyses and support reproducibility.
My research addresses the overarching aim of identifying responses in molecular systems that could be predictive of species tolerance for environmental change. I aim for my research to contribute to informing policy in both aquaculture industries and conservation, and to contribute to education around how climate change may impact ecosystems. Towards this, I collaborate with commercial, tribal, and governmental fisheries organizations, and actively participate in outreach and extension activites.
I received my Ph.D. from the University of Washington, where I studied how environmental changes illicit changes in the gene expression, physiology, and performance of biomaterials within marine mussels. My project explored how ocean pH, oxygen, and temperature impact the structure of byssal threads, protein-based adhesive fibers that mussels use to attach to substrates underwater. This project required that I use techniques from genomics, ecology, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, and materials science to characterize the impact of direct (environment-material) and indirect (environment-genome) factors that alter the function of the adhesive, resulting in five publications (three first-author) in the journals Nature Climate Change, Biofouling, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Conservation Physiology, and the Journal of Shellfish Research.
After the completion of my degree in 2018, I accepted two 1-year Postdoctoral Fellowships within the Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering at the Mayo Clinic and the Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, two of the top-ranked hospitals in the country. I took these positions because it allowed me to received training in cutting edge techniques within genomics (RNA-seq), cell and molecular biology (stem cell culture), and gene editing (leniviral transfection, CRISPR/cas9). After two years of postdoctoral training within an applied biomedical setting, I plan to apply the techniques I have learned towards the cultivation of fish and shellfish species that are resilient to climate warming, ocean acidification, and hypoxia to safegaurd the continued production of sustainable seafood within the United States.
Office: School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, FTR 234
Mailing address: School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, 1122 NE Boat Street, Room 116, Seattle, WA 98105