Evolution ◆ Biophysics ◆ Data Science

Nature is interdisciplinary. Ecological systems are forged in the evolutionary crucible which freely mixes biology with mathematics, chemistry, physics, and geology. I cross traditional disciplinary boundaries to research and protect two critical ecosystems: coral reefs and urban forests. Previously, my team and I discovered “super black” birds and spiders that reflect <0.5% of light– work that inspired new solar panel materials and will appear in a forthcoming United Nations booklet on bioinspiration for sustainable design. First-author papers from my projects have appeared in Nature Communications, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, and Current Biology.

Currently, I am a Stanford Science Fellow (coadvised by Jen Dionne and Steve Palumbi) and an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow (advised by Sonke Johnsen). David Haig supervised my PhD at Harvard, where I was an NDSEG Fellow and the Ashford Fellow. Before that, I studied biology at Yale (advised by Leo Buss and Rick Prum) and received an MPhil in enviromental policy as a Rhodes Scholar. My research falls into four categories; click the images below or visit my Research page to learn more.

City Trees Project      Optics of Coral Reefs     

Super Black Animals      Biology of Pregnancy     

These projects may seem broad, but they are intimately connected. By studying fantastic ornaments in birds and spiders, I acquired the tools in computational optics to research photosynthesis in threatened coral reef ecosystems. After researching genetic conflicts in human pregnancy, I launched a project on host-symbiont conflict as a cause of coral bleaching and gained the data science skills to research urban forestry. My research philosophy can be summed up in one sentence, oft repeated by my PhD supervisor David Haig: it is worth our while to focus on the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.