I am currently a PhD student at the Australian National University studying in the division of Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics in the Research School of Biology. I am co-supervised by Dr. Craig Moritz (ANU) and Dr. Leo Joseph (CSIRO). The dissertation that I am undertaking focuses on the genomic speciation. Broadly, I am interested in exploring the process of genomic evolution through the process of speciation.
Prior to the dissertation work, my research interest focused on avian phylogenetics and phylogeography. My undergraduate work involved phylogenetics of various African avifaunal families. Additionally, I worked on the phylogeography of African and North American avifauna.
WHOLE GENOME SEQUENCING
The Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) has served as a model organism in vertebrate mating systems for many years. To bridge the fields of behavior and genomics, we will be conducting a multi-platform de novo whole genome sequencing of the Superb Fairywren. This genome will be done with the goal of being a reliable reference for both behavioral and evolutionary research.
INTROGRESSION AND SPECIATION
The role of hybridization and introgression on speciation has been a controversial topic as of late. A hybrid zone is a natural experiment in extrinsic and intrinsic incompatibilities between diverging populations. I will be exploring the various patterns resulting from secondary contact and hybridization to shed light on the influence they may have on speciation.
SUTURE ZONE DYNAMICS
A “suture zone” is a collection of hybrid zones in a shared geographic region. I will be exploring how genetic and phenotypic divergence in conjunction with ecology help influence the degree hybridization and introgression in multiple parallel systems. This work is focused on a biogeographic barrier in Queensland, Australia.
Genome divergence can be influenced by many factors both extrinsic and intrinsic. Broadly, I plan on studying these various factors. I will be exploring how allopatric and parapatric speciation shapes genome divergence. I will also look at variation in DNA class evolution (mitochondrial, autosomal, Z-chromosome) through speciation. Lastly, I plan on exploring how chromosomal inversions influence the intrinsic genomic incompatibilities that may lead to speciation.