I am an Assistant Professor of Botany at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, where I teach undergraduate courses and conduct research on a variety of subjects including, but not restricted to…
- the transition between full and partial mycoheterotrophy
- reproductive biology, especially buzz pollination, floral symmetry, and sexual compatibility
- population, metapopulation, and species delimitation
- the effects of natural selection on foliar versus floral development
I completed my doctoral degree at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in the southern foothills of the Transverse Mountain Ranges in southern California. The main thrust of my dissertation research was to understand the natural history of the Pyrola picta species complex, including aspects of phylogeny (including hybridization), biogeography, mating systems, and leaf adaptations (morphological and anatomical) to environmental heterogeneity.
Why Botany? Why on Earth would I spend my life studying plants in the wild? Well, there are several reasons and they span the categories of Important to everyone to Important to some. For example, plants are involved in many ecosystem processes– providing food for herbivores, producing oxygen and pulling carbon dioxide out of the air, interacting with fungi involved with filtering water– these functions of plants and biodiversity are essential for everyone. Understanding the complex web of interactions involving organisms of all kingdoms, including plants, can also help us better understand our own role as humans on Earth– this type of understanding and self-awareness is important to some. Researching plant diversification helps us understand complexity in nature, which is essential for self-preservation.