As the Conservation GIS Scientist with Defenders of Wildlife, I work with interdisciplinary teams to help develop new tools and ideas for strategically using spatial data to improve biodiversity conservation policies and practices. I draw on a research background in natural resources management and teaching/outreach experience in geospatial technologies to develop map products that showcase the work of Defenders and engage the public in environmental conservation. Prior to this role, I was a GIS Teaching Fellow in the Department of Geography at Middlebury College. I earned my Ph.D. and M.S. in the lab of Dr. John Volin at the University of Connecticut studying the effects of phenology - the timing of life cycle events - on the growth and physiology of native and invasive plant species.
Earlier spring leaf-out or later leaf-drop in fall are thought to give invasive plant species an advantage over native species by allowing them extra time to harvest light for the season. However, the amount of extra light harvested may be influenced by the timing of others in the forest community. My research explores how this timing (phenology) impacts invasive and native plant success in forests.
Understanding patterns of biodiversity and the mechanisms that mold them is vital to accurately forecast the effects of global climate change on communities. Many studies to date only report on species richness for conservation which potentially ignores patterns in functionality and evolutionary history. I compared taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic biodiversity patterns for various taxa.