PhD Student (2016-Present)
I study evolutionary developmental biology. What are the developmental genetic mechanisms through which novelty can emerge? I am using water striders as a model system, working with the genus Rheumatobates where a variety of elaborate traits in males have evolved quickly in response to sexual conflict. I address the origin, function and developmental genetics of these traits with a range of approaches and tools, including comparative transcriptomics and genomics, qPCR and dsRNA interference, and behavioral assays.
Previous results showed that distal-less dll has evolved a new function and is involved in the development of antagonistic grasping structures in the species Rheumatobates rileyi. These structures are only present on the antennae of males. I am testing several hypotheses for the role of dll in the origin of the grasping structures, on all 4 sets of appendages across this remarkable genus.