I am a Ph.D. student at Notre Dame, and I am co-advised by Dr. Lamberti and Dr. Jennifer Tank. Although I love many areas of freshwater biology, for my PhD I am studying how environmental DNA (eDNA) is transported and degraded in streams and rivers. Aquatic organisms slough DNA into the environment (skin cells, excrement, reproductive cells, etc.), and this DNA can be sampled and analyzed to determine what is living in a body of water. Although it is a relatively new discipline, eDNA is already proving to be an excellent technique for monitoring freshwater systems, and it is especially useful for keeping tabs on endangered species because it is cheaper and less invasive than traditional sampling and monitoring techniques. My long-term goal is to advance the predictive power of eDNA by investigating the biotic and abiotic factors that determine the fate of eDNA in flowing waters, with the ultimate aim of making the tool more applicable for management and monitoring.
For my undergraduate degree, I studied Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I discovered my love for freshwater systems while working in an aquatic entomology lab. I then spent a year working as a technician on several stream ecology projects at the Illinois Natural History Survey before coming to Notre Dame.
When I’m not in the lab you can find me snuggling with my dog and reading a book, on the campus rock wall (when there isn’t a pandemic happening), or enjoying the great outdoors.