In short, a total jellyfish nerd.
Currently I am a doctoral candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas, advised under Dr. Paulyn Cartwright. I am interested in the diversification and evolution of venoms within the phylum Cnidaria, the earliest diverging venomous animals that includes jellyfish, hydroids and hydromedusae, sea anemones, and corals. Specifically, my thesis work focuses on understanding the relationship between venom composition/function and the diverse life history characteristics of medusozoans, or medusae-bearing cnidarians. I have a bachelors in Biology and Chemistry from the College of William and Mary, where I spent four years working with Dr. Jon Allen (Allen Lab) on the early life history of a predatory polyclad flatworm in the Chesapeake Bay. During my bachelors, I also completed a NSF REU on marine natural products at the University of North Florida with Dr. Amy Lane (Lane Lab) and a NOAA Holling’s Undergraduate Fellowship at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History with Dr. Allen Collins exploring box jellyfish venom genes.
Needless to say, I dived head on into the world of science! I have been captivated by the beauty of jellyfish and the power of their venoms since middle school, and am incredibly fortunate to be working with these critters in my graduate work. I have been involved in various forms of science communication and public engagement for many years, from volunteering at the Columbus Zoo as a high schooler, co-chairing the Outreach Committee for the KU EEB Graduate Student Organization, being featured as a guest on the Ologies podcast, participating in programs like Skype A Scientist, or leading modules for the Girl Scouts in the Kansas City Area. I started this blog 1) to continue working on my science communication from a new medium and 2) as an outlet to all the amazing science I learn about and want to share.
Welcome to my world of the gelatinous, beware of their sting!