Graduate Program: Ph.D. Candidate
Major Professor: Dr. Duane McKenna
My research interests broadly include insect systematics, phylogenetics, and evolution and insect-plant interactions. Currently, the main focus of my dissertation is reconstructing the phylogeny of Lamiinae (Coleoptera, Cerambycidae), the largest subfamily of long-horned beetles with more than 30,000 described species. The subfamily is undoubtedly monophyletic, but lacks a robust evolutionary framework due to the instability and uncertainty of its internal phylogeny. DNA sequence data from several nuclear genes will be used to reconstruct this phylogeny, which will hopefully provide new insights into the interrelationships and monophyly of lamiine tribes and the evolution of lamiine morphology (e.g., flightlessness) and host associations (feeding on herbaceous plants, gymnosperms, etc.). I am also interested in how advances in high-throughput genomics, bioinformatics, and computational biology can be utilized to reexamine remaining controversies in beetle phylogeny. Another major interest of mine is current issues in biological conservation and the gravity of sustaining biodiversity.