I’m a PhD student at the University of Montana in Missoula, working in the lab of Art Woods. I’m interested generally in physiological ecology and particularly in interactions between insects and plants. My dissertation work focuses on the wild world of plant volatiles – airborne chemicals that plants give off after being attacked by herbivorous insects. Often these odors are used as an indirect defense for plants – they call in enemies (predators or parasitoids) of herbivores, and act as an alarm call. This type of indirect defense has been studied in a few plant-insect systems, but we have no idea how abiotic factors affect communication between plants and their potential insect defenders.

I’m studying how abiotic factors like temperature might change the information that a plant gives off to a potential predator or parasitoid defender. The hawkmoth Manduca sexta and its host plants in the desert southwest (Datura wrightii and Proboscidea parviflora) provide a wonderful system in which to answer these questions.

In addition to being a neonatal biologist, I’m also a musician who performs regularly in Montana and Idaho. As a pianist, I began with the typical classical training that I pursued through my undergraduate work at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, but soon found the world of jazz much more intriguing and have been playing in various jazz-oriented groups since high school. Currently, I’m performing with the Captain Wilson Conspiracy in Missoula, MT. Check out the music page for more info.

Finally, I thoroughly a good quaff and an excellent meal. I cook, I shake and I stir. There might be a few posts here and there on this subject as well.

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to drop me a line any time.