Briefly describe your career path—up to this point.
Well, it all started when I took a Field Biology course (on a whim) as an undergraduate student at University of California, Berkeley. I found myself drifting away from a pre-medical track to focus on courses in evolutionary biology and ecology, in large part because I loved traveling and working outdoors. After college, I worked in several remote wilderness areas studying threatened frog species, and really fell in love with working in mountains. I later received genetics training at the San Diego Zoo’s center for Conservation and Research on Endangered Species and was really impressed with the ability of population genetics approaches to address a variety of biological questions. So I returned to graduate school at UC Berkeley, excited about using genetics to study the evolution of alpine insects in California. After finishing my PhD, I took the opportunity to travel and develop a network of international collaborators, first working at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, then studying at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, and finally spending two years working with statisticians at the Université Joseph Fourier Grenoble in France.
What is the main focus of your research program?
My work is inspired by the natural history of species and my fascination with how they overcome challenges in the natural world. One of my longstanding interests is how alpine species have evolved to cope with climatic variation and extreme environmental conditions. I am also interested in how ecological and evolutionary processes interact to shape biodiversity patterns, particularly during the formation of new species.
What drew you to UW-Madison?
The community of people at UW-Madison is outstanding and I feel incredibly lucky to be here. Not only are there wonderful opportunities for high quality research and teaching, but the students, staff and faculty members really impressed me with their friendliness and enthusiasm. It’s going to be a lot of fun working here!
What do you like to do outside of work?
I tend to be happiest when I’m outside observing nature. So I love hiking, rock climbing, and many other outdoor sports.