I am interested in the genetics and evolution of behavior, especially within-population variation in behavior. Social behavior, in particular, represents an exciting opportunity to study developmental and evolutionary feedbacks because the social environment itself can change and evolve. Learning, our other main focus, represents a powerful and common mechanism by which animals change their behavior, but the evolution of learning is still poorly understood. These areas of focus illustrate how population-genetic variation is orchestrated by a complex interplay between genetic variation and experience in the environment. To answer these questions, I draw inspiration from, and work to integrate, animal behavior, psychology, evolutionary ecology, and genetics.
I completed my A.B. at Princeton University, my PhD with Andy Sih in the Population Biology Graduate Group at the University of California, Davis, and my postdoc with Sergey Nuzhdin at the University of Southern California. My full CV is here.
I teach Animal Behavior (BIOS 321) and a variety of undergraduate research courses (BIOS 310, 401, NEUR 310, etc). I participate in teaching in the Graduate Student Core Course (BIOS 569) and other graduate courses (BIOS 541, 561, 801). I am a Faculty Affiliate for the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (CSWGS) and a member of the School of Natural Sciences Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leadership group.
My research addresses how interactions between natural selection and social selection shape the structure and evolution of social groups. Integrating quantitative genetics, social network theory, nutritional geometry, and the genetic tools available with the Drosophila melanogaster study system, I seek to understand how ecological forces interact with social behaviors, to shape the social environment individuals experience. I received my B.S. from the University of Virginia in 2013, joined the Saltz Lab at Rice in 2015, and advanced to PhD candidacy in 2017.
My research focuses on how and why variation in learning exists between and within species - particularly how differences in individual environmental experience combine with differences in the neural mechanisms of memory and recall to produce variation in learning ability. Through comparison of the model organisms D. sechellia and D. simulans, I am seeking to increase understanding of the genetic basis of variation in learning - coupling learning assays with quantitative genetics approaches. I received my B.S. in Biology from Texas A&M in 2012 and worked in industry before joining the Saltz lab in 2016.
My research primarily explores how individuals make decisions on how to with conspecifics. By using Drosophila melanogaster as a study system, I can incorporate genotypic variation into my investigation of how individuals interpret, produce, and use social signals to inform their own social behaviors, in addition to investigating the evolutionary feedbacks created by social information use on population-level processes. I received my B.S. in Biology with a minor in Genetics from Texas A&M University in 2018 before joining the Saltz Lab in 2019.
Research interests include sniffing, shedding an unbelievable amount, telling everyone her feelings, and being a Good Girl.