I study nudibranchs, a subgroup of sea slugs, because of their amazing diversity of shapes and colors. To understand what I mean by their amazing diversity, one only has to do a Google images search on nudibranchs. Their brightly patterned bodies and interesting shapes are enough to spark anyone’s curiosity. For my PhD I studied how the process of shifting to a new coral host species has resulted in the formation of new species in the genus Tenellia. I did this by analyzing the genomic divergence between species on different hosts to identify adaptation to those hosts.
As a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellows I continued to use genetics to study how coral-association has influenced the diversification of all coral-associated nudibranchs. See my recent paper in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution!
I am continuing to collect data on coral-feeding nudibranchs through a community science project on iNaturalist. Recent observations are posted to my home page. Please share this project with any snorkelers and divers you know!
My interest in symbioses on coral reefs led me to work with Dr. Alison Gould on genomic evolution of the cardinal fish genus Siphamia and their bioluminescent symbionts Photobacterium mandapamensis. For our latest results see our preprint on bioRxiv.