Former interest statement:
I am interested in applied aspects of multitrophic interactions involving primary producers, herbivores, and predators with emphases on both “bottom-up” plant effects and “top-down” effects by natural enemies.
My goal is to ask basic ecological questions while retaining real-world applications to my research. I therefore have examined these interactions within field crop agroecosystems and in the context of natural enemy suppression of pest insect populations. My primary research goal has been to investigate the potential benefits of increased within-species plant diversity (i.e. genotypic diversity), achieved by planting variety mixtures. For this work, I have used soybean-soybean aphid and wheat-bird cherry-oat aphid as model systems. I am also interested in the effects of enhanced crop genotypic diversity on natural enemies of these pests and if this could result in greater pest suppression. As part of my work with soybean aphid, I have worked to characterize the natural enemy community that is available to suppress this invasive pest in our region.
As a self-proclaimed career entomologist, I enjoy sharing my love of insects with young and curious minds. I believe that insects are the perfect catalyst for getting children interested in science and connected with nature and science. In my free time, I like to run, fish, hunt, bike, hike, or anything else that gets me outside and moving.
Check out my videos of pests on natural enemies on my YouTube channel.