Graduate Student (Fall 2013 - Current) Advisor: Dr. Karen Maruska Dept. of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
Watch my 3-minute thesis talk here to learn a little about my current research.
My thesis research is focused on the impact of human-made noises on fish behavior, physiology, and acoustic communication. Acoustic signaling is fundamental to communication and crucial for reproductive and territorial behaviors in many species. But how do animals that rely on acoustic signaling for survival and reproduction cope with this increased environmental noise? While many studies have tested for behavioral and physiological effects of human-made noises on terrestrial organisms, few studies have examined the role of anthropogenic sounds on aquatic animals, particularly fishes. Underwater anthropogenic noise has risen rapidly in the past century due to increases in pile driving, sonar use, and shipping traffic. Fish depend on their auditory system for information about predators and prey, orientation, and communication (e.g. agonistic interactions, courtship sounds, territorial defense). It is important, therefore, to examine how animals that rely on acoustic signaling for survival and reproduction might cope with this increased environmental noise. Because many species of fish produce sounds during courtship and aggression, high background noise can mask acoustic communication. The ability to receive and interpret acoustic signals is crucial for survival, and any masked communication due to anthropogenic noise can ultimately threaten reproductive success and species survival.
I am also interested in the role of the lateral line system during social interactions. Fish must integrate information from multiple sensory systems during social interactions. Visual, acoustic, and olfactory cues provide contextual information during social interactions, but the role of mechanosensory signals detected by the lateral line system during aggressive behaviors is unknown. I am interested in how mechanoreception may be acting as a form of communication during social interactions and how this how information may influence social decisions.
Phalloidin stained hair cells from A. burtoni
Flourescent IHC stain of A. burtoni brain
A. burtoni x-ray
DASPEI stained lateral line scale
DASPEI stained A. burtoni
Undergraduate Researcher (2011-2013) Advisor: Dr. Duncan MacKenzie Biology Department, Texas A&M University Senior Honors Thesis: Sodium-Iodide Symporter Expression Studies in Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) Tissues. Techniques: Radioimmunoassays, IP injections, behavioral observations, RNA extractions, DNA extractions
As an undergrad in the MacKenzie lab I assisted graduate students in their research to understand the role of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). To do this I used a variety of techniques, including hormone injections, hormone supplementation in homemade fish food, and radioimmunoassays to measure hormone levels. My senior honors thesis project examined the sodium-iodide symporter (NIS; essential for thyroid hormone production) in various tissues. Using degenerate primers, I cloned out a portion of the gene and was able to create red drum specific NIS primers for tissue expression studies in hopes of better understanding environmental iodide uptake ultimately leading to thyroid hormone synthesis.
Undergraduate Researcher and Field Assistant (2012) Advisor: Dr. Sunny Scobell Biology Department, Texas A&M University Project: Hormonal control of male pregnancy in gulf pipefish Techniques: field sampling and hormone extractions
During the summer of 2012, I assisted Dr. Sunny Scobell in field collections of gulf pipefish. Back in the lab, I assisted with physical observations and classifications, dissections, and hormone extractions.
Undergraduate Internship (2012) Advisor: Mr. Kenneth Peck Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory Techniques: ELISA, TLC, HPLC, LCMS, GCMS
Through this experience I gained valuable knowledge on several more advance chemical techniques. I learned how to run ELISAs, TLC, HPLC, LCMS, and GCMS, as well as how to optimize various instruments for detecting new compounds.