- Associate Professor of Biology
I am a broadly trained ecologist fascinated by the small things of this world. I study plants, insects, and how they interact. Becoming interested in ecology as an undergraduate at Duke University, I decided to focus on plant-insect interactions in my graduate studies at the University of Maryland. These small organisms are incredibly diverse, form the base of many food webs, and are important in agriculture, forestry, and environmental management. What’s more, they are easy to work with experimentally and are found in virtually every terrestrial habitat.
In this era of global environmental change, my work focuses on how human impacts change plant-insect interactions, food webs, and biodiversity. My current research includes understanding pollinator ecology at the College’s environmental property, mitigating effects of invasive insects such as the spotted lanternfly, and investigating how urbanization alters herbivore-plant interactions. In collaboration with McDaniel students, I have also set up a long-term ecological experiment investigating how land-use change and altered nutrient cycles affect grassland plants and insects. As part of a large, international collaboration (https://nutnet.org/), the data we collect in summer research and in my Ecology class contributes to a global understanding of ecological processes.