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Advisor: Morty Ortega
In the broadest sense, I am a biologist. I study living things, from the top of the food chain down to the foreign plants that are invading our ecosystem. I have a hard time focusing on just one aspect of biology because it is all truly fascinating. Globally, I have looked at a variety of animals and their environments, ranging from Africa to Costa Rica, but somehow I have managed to stay stationary for long enough to pursue my masters and PhD at the University of Connecticut.
I am currently a PhD student in the Natural Resource Department, with a focus on wildlife biology and management. I work primarily with trophic cascade theory and Lyme disease ecology. My master’s research pertained specifically to the repercussions of apex predator removal in the Northeast ecosystem. Contrary to popular belief, elimination of a major predator does not benefit the natural environment or us; the human population. In fact, the trophic cascade that occurred as a result of this disruption has lead to an increase in black-legged ticks and the associated Lyme disease. This conclusion has led to me current PhD research, which seeks to quantify these effects on black-legged ticks, the prevalence of Lyme disease, and their diversity, or lack, of host species. Therefore, my research aims to not only identify the cascade that is occurring, but also provide a possible management strategy to eliminate the public health risk.
I enjoy the field research as a welcomed change to my undergraduate research at the Nazareth College of Rochester. At this institution I was able to determine the presence of chitinase, the digestive enzyme present in only three new world lizards, one such being the Eastern Fence Lizard. I was lucky enough to present this research at the World Congress of Herpetology conference in Vancouver in the summer of 2012. My undergraduate degree along with my minors in chemistry, biology, and English literature have lent to me a well rounded knowledge that is in constant search of questions and answers for this eager world we live in. To paraphrase Mary Oliver; what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
M.S. in Natural Resources and the Environment
University of Connecticut
B.S. in Environmental Science
Minors in Chemistry, Biology, English Literature
Nazareth College of Rochester