Graduate Student Bios
BS Biology College of William and Mary 2007
Very broadly, I am interested in applying molecular techniques and evolutionary-based studies to questions of conservation concern. My current research is focused on freshwater crayfish in the upper Midwest. The rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) is an aggressive and successful invasive species that has been introduced into the upper Midwest fairly recently. In many freshwater lakes, its introduction has resulted in declines in native crayfish populations as well as a variety of fish and snail species. O. rusticus also hybridizes with the species O. propinquus, producing highly competitive offspring. I am investigating how long O. propinquus genes remain in populations after an invasion has occurred. I also plan on looking at the distribution of rusty crayfish genotypes to try to determine past routes of invasion.
MS Biology Northeastern University 2011
BS Biological Sciences University of Notre Dame 2005
BS Ecology & Evolutionary Biology University of Tennessee 2012
My research interests lie in the field of the evolutionary ecology of insect-plant interactions. I received my M.S. in Population and Conservation Biology at Texas State University addressing ecological dynamics and complex life histories of a gall forming insect under the mentorship of Dr. James Ott. My current focus is on the origin of incipient insect parasitoid species that attacks flies of the Rhagoletis pomonella species complex, a model system for studying sympatric speciation. Previous research by Forbes et al. (Science, 2009) has shown that sequential radiation of R. pomonella from its host-plants (hawthorn to introduced, domesticated apple) has triggered a reciprocal radiation event in a species of parasitoid wasp (Diachasma alloeum) that attacks the R. pomonella complex. I am currently using population genetics techniques with several other species of parasitoids that attack the R. pomonella sibling species complex (Diachasmamorpha mellea and Utetes cancliculatus, and more) to test for sequential radiation in these species among their variety of host (hawthorn, apple, blueberry, and snowberry, etc. infesting flies). Lab and field techniques such as fruit volatile odor testing and eclosion phenology experiments will also allow me to better understand the possible ecological drivers of this phenomenon.
I am also addressing several questions regarding parasitoid co-occurance and/or competition on individual host, local and regional levels to gain insight into how competitive interactions might be driving potential host race formation.
MS Biology Brigham Young University 2013
BS Biology Brigham Young University 2011
MS Biology University of California San Diego 2011
BS General Biology University of California San Diego 2009
Gilbert Saint Jean
BS Biology Florida International University 2005
A graduate student in the Feder lab and a GLOBES fellow, I work in partnership with Thomas Streit, CSC, PhD, director of the University of Notre Dame Haiti Program, to apply genetic principles for understanding the co-structure of Culex quinquefasciatus and Wuchereria bancrofti, the vector and causative agent respectively, of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) in the Caribbean island country of Haiti and in LF elimination efforts worldwide.
AB Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Princeton University 2012