Research Q & A
What’s your hometown?
St. Louis, Missouri.
What are you currently working on?
My research focuses on the ecology and evolution of species’ geographic ranges. I use a combination of genetics, physiology, behavior, and mapping techniques to focus on an unusually rare species, the South Mountains gray-cheeked salamander. The Bell Museum has supported my work to better map its range, collect information about genetic diversity, and measure environmental variation.
Where are you working on research/field work?
My field work is in the South Mountains of North Carolina. These mountains are relatively small (less than 3,000 feet at their highest point) and the whole mountain range extends less than 30 miles from end to end.
What will your next steps/research be?
Starting this spring, I will begin a two-year project in which I’ll be measuring ground temperature and humidity throughout the South Mountains. I’ll use small coin-sized environmental sensors that record data every two hours. At the end of this study, I’ll be able to evaluate how different landscape features (for example, elevation or canopy cover) effect temperature and humidity. This information will be used to better predict the geographic distribution of the South Mountains gray-cheeked salamander. Ultimately, I will use my data to make conservation assessments of this species with regard to habitat management and climate change.
What would be the five-song soundtrack to your research work/What five songs do you listen to most while you work?
- “I’m so Green” by CAN
- “Movin’ On” by Old Salt Union
- “Strange” by Galaxie 500
- “A Summer Wasting” by Belle and Sebastian
- “In Spite of Ourselves” by John Prine and Iris DeMent