I am a conservation biologist and I have long had an interest in understanding how people affect wildlife in landscapes. I use genetic tools to infer the ways that living things interact with the landscapes they live in, both the natural and the built environment. By understanding questions like “What happen to wildlife genetic patterns when habitat changes?” we can better understand how to deal with obstacles to wildlife conservation.
My dissertation research and current research is on the impacts of roads on wildlife genetics. To understand these impacts, I made use of the field of landscape genetics – the relationship between the distribution of genes across landscapes. I am studying wild natural populations and also combining simulation modeling with empirical data to understand what happens to genetic diversity and genetic differentiation when roads cut up habitats. I am working on inferring what happens to genes in the neighborhoods around each individual across landscapes, which will help us to have a much finer resolution understanding of what happens when we fragment wildlife habitat. It will also help us to know how road avoidance and roadkill affect genes in wildlife populations, separately and in combination.