Research

I’m an ‘Integrative Biologist’; that’s what the paper UofT gave me says anyway. I use as many tools as I can to approach my research questions from as many angles as possible with the goal of thoroughly understanding whatever I look at. Trying and learning new methods keeps me on my toes while my research questions keep those synapses firing. In my research (and all things) I try to live by a philosophy of ‘personal best‘.

Current: I’m interested in how invasive species affect their new ecosystems, and how completely novel surroundings affect the invasive species in turn. I’m working with Drosophila suzukii (commonly called the Spotted Winged Drosophila) as my study organism. This work is being done with Dr. Bernie Roitberg at Simon Fraser University.

Original fly photos by Sean McCann, composite and processing by Mike Boers.

H.B.Sc.: Work with Dr. Mark Fitzpatrick at UTSC examined how juvenile condition affects aggressive strategies later in life for male Drosophila simulans. This work is in preparation for publication.

Wings erect! An aggressive display.

H.B.Sc.: Work with Dr. Maydianne Andrade at UTSC examined whether copulatory effort in a courting spider (Latrodectus hesperus) depleted resource holding potential for later competitions.

Other work: I worked as a volunteer, Undergraduate Student Research Assistant, Honours Thesis student, and as the Lab Manager for Dr. Maydianne Andrade between 2007 and 2011. During this time I assisted with, and participated in weekly discussions about, research on sexual selection, aggression, life history tradeoffs, developmental plasticity, chemical and vibratory signalling, among many other topics.

I gained experience working on a large number of topics and species through my time in the Andrade Lab, Fitzpatrick Lab, and from various field and lab courses with strong research components as an undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Topics included sexual selection and aggression (discussed above), sex and sex change as a life-history strategy, seedling banks, the Allee effect, herbivory defense, invasion biology (the Enemy Release hypothesis, the Evolution of Increased Competitive Ability, disturbance effects on introduced species establishment), effects of abiotic factors on species distribution, genetic inheritance, and gene cloning. The organisms I’ve worked with include various spider species (orb-weaver spiders, widow spiders, jumping spiders, and long-jaw spiders), various Drosophila species, crickets, Dog Strangling Vine, various species of ivy, Sugar Maple, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Parrotfish, milk weed, and E. coli.