One of the first things people notice when they walk into a tropical forest is the immense diversity. While there is much to see throughout the canopy, the vast majority of a forest’s diversity lies hidden below our feet in the thick mat of leaf litter. As a PhD candidate in Dr. Kaspari’s lab at the University of Oklahoma, I worked on exploring what factors influence the diverse invertebrate and microbial communities within the leaf litter and soil. In particular, my research focused on two main topics: 1) How the refuse of the canopy ant Azteca trigona influences nutrient cycling and benefits the host tree, and 2) What role do antibiotics play in shaping invertebrate and microbial communities. My work combines field experiments with microbial techniques and taxonomic surveys, and is conducted primarily in Panama at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. I am now working as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Idaho in Dr. Strickland’s lab. We are examining a variety of topics, from herbivore/plant/microbial interactions to the impacts of agricultural antibiotic use. Through my research I hope to shed light on what factors drive community structure in the brown food web.
Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions you may have.