I work in the fields of conservation, behavioral ecology, community ecology, and invasion biology.
My goal is to better understand and mitigate human-caused disturbances in the ocean by studying changes in animal health and behavior. I also aim to integrate traditional ecological knowledge and modern ecological theory to better manage fisheries that are culturally important to Hawai'i and the greater Pacific region.
Ocean-locked: How a girl from the heartland became a marine biologist in the heart of the Pacific...
My love for the ocean motivates my personal and professional life, but I was born and raised on a rural farm in land-locked Kentucky. After becoming scuba-certified in a freshwater-filled rock quarry, I could hardly imagine a life spent too long above water. I attended a small liberal arts college and spent my summers as a coastal intern studying fish-parasite ecology in Oregon and the Virgin Islands.
Upon graduating, I was a Fulbright Advanced Student in southern France where I studied immunological ecology of fishes (et la langue d'amour!). I also briefly worked in a rural community north of Lake Victoria in Kenya, where I was a primary school teacher.
I was fortunate enough to receive a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to begin my PhD at Oregon State University. My dissertation investigated how the invasive Pacific red lionfish affects and is affected by members of a native interaction web of parasites, cleaner fish, and fish hosts on Atlantic coral reefs. My research revealed mechanisms by which lionfish may be successful in their invaded range, including low infection rates and an ability to learn quickly.
As a postdoc at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, I am developing environmental threshold levels for common stressors on coral reefs, including sedimentation and nutrients.
I love surfing, hiking, traveling, playing music with friends, and watching Kentucky basketball.