Primate evolutionary biologist and geneticist at the University of Texas at Austin
I conduct long-term behavioral and ecological field research on several species in the primate community of Amazonian Ecuador to investigate the ways in which ecological conditions (such as the abundance and distribution of food resources) and the strategies of conspecifics together shape primate behavior and social relationships and ultimately determine the kinds of societies we see primates living in. This is a crucial and central focus in evolutionary anthropology, as understanding the ways in which behavior and social systems are shaped by environmental pressures is a fundamental part of the discipline.
I complement my field studies with molecular genetic laboratory work and agent-based simulation modeling in order to address issues that are typically difficult to explore through observational studies alone, including questions about dispersal behavior, gene flow, mating patterns, population structure, and the fitness consequences of individual behavior. In collaboration with colleagues, I have also started using molecular techniques to investigate a number of broader questions concerning the evolutionary history, social systems, and ecological roles of various New World primates.
I am a Postdoctoral Associate in the Ecology, Evolution and Behavior department at the University of Minnesota. My research involves using agent-based models combined with lab and field research to test a broad range of hypotheses in biology. I am currently developing an agent-based model of animal cell systems to investigate the epigenetic mechanisms that influence cell behavior. For my PhD work, I created a model, B3GET, which simulates the evolution of virtual primates to better understand the relationships between growth and development, life history and reproductive strategies, mating strategies, foraging strategies, and how ecological factors drive these relationships. I have also conducted fieldwork to inform the modeled behavior of these virtual organisms. Here I am pictured with an adult male gelada in Ethiopia!
I specialize in creating agent-based models of biological systems for research and education in genetics, evolution, demography, ecology, and behavior.