PhD Student, School of Earth and Space Exploration
Research Interests: Astrobiology, Metabolic Evolution, Origin of Life, Space Exploration, Biogeochemistry, microbial ecology, isotope geochemistry, paleoclimatology
Education: BS in Astronomy/Astrophysics and Physics from University of Michigan
Current Research: I'm creating a computational model to simulate the evolution of microbial communities. This multi-level model--consisting of communities, organisms, enzymes, and metabolites--will be used to study the co-evolution of life and its environment, the ability of ecosystems to resist environmental perturbations, the effect of diversity and complexity on ecosystem stability, and the evolution of metabolic networks.
Concurrently, I'm working with Hyunju to create network graphs representing the communal metabolic networks of microbial hot spring communities found in Yellowstone National Park. These networks graphs are generated by linking sequenced genes to enzymatic functions in order to infer the metabolic network of a sampled community. Through analysis of the topological properties of these graphs in the context of co-sampled geochemical data, we hope to uncover how topological properties correlate with microbial diversity, metabolic function, and environmental geochemistry.
These same topological properties can be measured for the simulated metabolic networks generated from my computational model. By comparing these to the topological properties measured from the empirical microbial hot-spring data, we hope to better understand the biological and environmental evolutionary dynamics that lead to the structure of extant microbial ecosystems.
I'm also working in Prof. Ariel Anbar's lab (anbarlab.org). Alongside Dr. Steve Romaniello, I helped to develop a fully automated chromatography method capable of purification of both Calcium and Strontium from a diverse sample suite for stable and radiogenic isotope analysis. We are currently applying this method to separate Ca and Sr from carbonate rock samples in order to study ocean chemistry in paleoenvironments.