I am interested in how cross-trophic species interactions drive competition and coexistence in plant communities. I am particularly fascinated by the interactions between plants and their microbial associates, and how these interactions can help answer fundamental questions such as: “Why are some species abundant while others rare?”, “How do species coexist in diverse communities?”, and “What limits species ranges and population abundance?” Classical approaches to answering these questions have focused on defining key abiotic drivers, such as climate or mineral resources, modified by species interactions, such as competition or consumption. Yet these mechanisms often fall short of explaining the dynamics of taxa that have seemingly similar resource requirements, such as plants. Microbial symbionts have high potential to shift the current paradigm in population and community ecology. My work has shown that plant-microbe interactions can alter plant competition and coexistence, explain population commonness and rarity, and contribute to species turnover and stability over decadal time scales. Ongoing and future work will evaluate the importance of plant-microbe interactions relative to other coexistence mechanisms, connecting the disparate scales of microbial and plant populations, and building a framework to predict the impacts of plant-microbe interactions across environments.
University of New Mexico, Ph.D. 2017
Washington University in St. Louis, A.B. 2011