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Research Areas

Research: Projects

Lizard Color Evolution

Color is a fascinating trait that can be used to study evolution. For my postdoctoral research in the Wang lab at UC Berkeley, I am investigating the genetic basis of color in Gilbert's Skink, Plestiodon gilberti, in California. This skink has populations with distinctly bright red and blue tails. I will sequence and compare their genomes to assess the genetic loci responsible for the color difference.

This project is parallel to the California Conservation Genomics Project which recently sequenced a high quality reference genome for this species.

Southeast Asian Skink Evolution

Skinks are the most diverse family of lizards with over 1,600 species worldwide with a wide range of unique morphological adaptations and life-histories. I have previously worked on several projects in skink systematics, phylogenetics, and biogeography. 

For my dissertation research I focused on three genera of skinks (Eutropis, Sphenomorphus, Tytthoscincus) on Sulawesi to investigate the geographic processes that impacted their evolution. I uncovered two huge, and almost entirely undescribed radiations of skinks on Sulawesi. These groups speciated not only due to the historical movements of Sulawesi's island components, but also due to evolutionary uplift. It is a fascinated system to study the processes leading to the formation of biodiversity


Marker Selection for Phylogenomics

With Todd Jackman (Villanova University) and Tony Gamble (Marquette University), I compiled a set of orthologous, highly informative, protein-coding loci that should be able to resolve difficult nodes in the tree of life. We call this set of markers Rapidly Evolving Long Exon Capture (RELEC).

See article published at MBE

Species Discoveries and Descriptions

Species are the principal units for studying evolution and implementing conservation, and as such it is critical to describe the diversity of life in the world. So far I have described 4 species of skink and 1 gecko from Indonesia and Malaysia. On recent field work we have found several more new species that we hope to describe soon!

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