I am interested in processes of incipient speciation, or the initial stages of how one species becomes two, especially in montane systems. My research currently focuses on the evolutionary history of birds in the Andes.
As a graduate student I am examining leapfrog patterns of plumage variation and high elevation hybrid zones in a group called the flowerpiercers (Thraupidae: Diglossa). The genus Diglossa provides an ideal system to study incipient speciation because it contains birds at three different levels on the speciation continuum: isolated population-level differentiation, secondary contact with hybridization, and secondary contact without hybridization. The replicated contact zones and repeated plumage patterns found in Diglossa make for a natural evolutionary experiment, allowing me to understand the drivers of speciation in one of the most biodiverse mountain ranges in the world.
All of my research has a foundation in natural history. I have a strong background in museum science, specimen-based studies, and field biology.