My current work in the Hadly Lab focuses on characterizing mercury transfer in terrestrial ecosystems of California. Specifically, I am assessing mercury uptake by earthworm taxa (and other soil invertebrates) in relatively unpolluted sites to understand below-ground dynamics. I am also utilizing sediment cores to establish historical levels (~126 years) of mercury in the area. My work generally gauges how much the invertebrate community bioaccumulates mercury across soil and vegetation landscapes, to better predict impacts through the rest of the terrestrial food web, particularly top insectivore predators like birds and bats. In addition to pure research, I hope to translate some of this work into the policy world, to help inform current regulations and remediation standards, which currently do not fully consider mercury pollution in our terrestrial ecosystems.
I received my bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Arizona, where I worked in Dr. Melanie Culver’s conservation genetics research lab. This was my first exposure to research through the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program. My initial project assessed shared genetic variation (SNPs) between distinct lineages of large felids. I also worked on a project investigating captive populations of Arabian oryx as potential sources of genetic variation for wild populations. Subsequently, I worked with Dr. Liliana Cortés Ortiz at the University of Michigan, to understand the diversity and evolutionary history of Peruvian red howler monkeys. While conducting fieldwork in southeastern Peru, I learned that the area was heavily impacted by artisanal and small-scale gold mining (e.g. deforestation and mercury pollution). This was my first exposure to the global mercury problem.