"I applied to the Scholars program so that I may become more independent in Reed Lab working on my own research project. I hope to learn how to analyze genetics data and finish an honors thesis by the end of Spring 2012. Furthermore, the program will also allow me to take another collecting trip to the Bahamas with my lab to collect additional bat samples for my project. My aim is to publish my Scholars project in the journal Molecular Ecology or Biotropica. Furthermore, I will also present the results of my research at the yearly North American Symposium for Bat Research in October."
Chemistry, Art History
In college, it has been my goal to take a variety of classes in hopes of receiving a diverse education. I am especially interested in the genetic sciences and have searched for opportunities to get more involved. Currently, one of my most ambitious goals is to bring my research on the phylogeography of Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) to the point that will allow me to be the first author on a peer-reviewed publication. My long-term aim is to finish an M.D. program with a Master’s degree in genomic sciences. My intent is to be a clinical researcher with a focus in genetics that also works directly with patients. Furthermore, I hope to one day teach at university.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- Hazen E. Nutter Scholarship (2011)
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science for Life Undergraduate Research Award (2010-2011)
- National Merit Scholar (2008-Present)
- Florida Academic Scholars Award (2008-Present)
- Florida Bright Futures (2008-Present)
- UF Stand Up Comedy Club
- UF Intramural Softball Team
I volunteer weekly at St. Francis House as a front desk attendant and soup kitchen volunteer. I also spend time volunteering at the Shands at Lake Shore emergency room.
Hobbies and Interests
- Science, history, museums, cooking, hula hoop, and biking.
Phylogeography of Mexican Free-Tailed Bats on the Bahamian Archipelago
The Bahamas are interesting biogeographically because of the natural boundaries that exist between islands. Bats are the only native mammals inhabiting many West Indian islands and can disperse over sizable distances, which creates an exceptional case for examining species diversification and dispersal. Despite flight capabilities of bats, has been proposed that ocean barriers make migration between islands unlikely in bats and that populations on different islands were likely distinct due to a lack of gene flow between islands. Therefore, one can predict that bats of the Bahamas would contain high levels of genetic structure. We assessed genetic differentiation using mtDNA in the Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasilienesis). We collected specimens from the Bahamas and Florida and extracted DNA samples from fresh tissue. mtDNA sequence data was obtained for the d-loop of the control region gene. Additional sequences were obtained from GenBank for localities in the Untied States, Mexico, and South America. We tested the null hypothesis that bats from each island of the Bahamas were monophyletic using Maximum Likelihood implemented in PAUP*4.0b. Based on control region sequences, Tadarida samples from Florida and the Little Bahama Bank (northwestern islands) clustered with bats from the continental United States and Mexico. However, bats from the Great Bahama Bank (southeastern islands) clustered on a branch of their own sister to all other Tadarida. The gene tree indicates a lack of gene flow between the two Bahama banks and that Tadarida from the Little Bahama Bank are more closely related to bats from the continental United States and Mexico than to bats in neighboring islands in the Bahamas. We have found no genetic differentiation in Tadarida throughout North and Central America, but within the islands of the Bahamas there is great genetic diversity present indicating a complex history in the region that warrants further investigation.