Our NIH MIRA (Maximizing Investigator’s Research Award) has been funded by the National Institute for General Medical Sciences! Using a combination of controlled-laboratory and semi-wild field studies, our research will exploit natural variation in populations of the North American Deer Mouse as a means to dissect the genetic and molecular mechanisms by which natural selection reshapes physiology in the process of adaptation to high altitude. Stay tuned for research highlights!

University of Denver

I am incredibly excited to be starting as an Assistant Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Denver (https://science.du.edu/biology), starting September 2020! I am so excited to join an amazing biology department, and most especially this dynamic group of eco-evo biologist (https://dueeb.weebly.com/).

We are recruiting! Do you want to work at the interface of physiology and evolutionary biology? Do you have an interest in vertebrates? Are you curious about how animals adapt to extreme environments, such as the highest places in Colorado? If you are a prospective student looking for MS or PhD programs for Fall 2021, and these topics interest you, get in touch with me! See the Contact Me page


Evolution talk online

I had the pleasure of speaking at a symposium on the role of phenotypic plasticity in evolution at the Evolution 2018 in Montpellier France recently. My talk on the role of maladaptive plasticity in adaptation to high-altitude can be viewed below. It features new unpublished work from an experiment using 6 species of Peromyscus as well data from my recent papers in Evolution and Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Evolution 2018 Talk

NIH Fellowship

As of April 2017, I’ve been accepted as an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of Montana! My project will explore the physiological and fitness consequences of selection on Epas1, a master regulator of the body’s response to hypoxia. This gene is under strong natural selection in highland populations of deer mice, as well as humans, wolves, and many other mammals native to high-elevations.

Here is how this project is relevant to the NIHs goals:

The disruption of oxygen homeostasis is a crucial feature in the pathophysiology of many common and devastating diseases, including heart disease, chronic lung disease, and cerebrovascular disease. Populations (e.g., highland Tibetan humans) that have adapted to high-altitude environments are protected from the negative effects of extremely low oxygen availability (hypoxia), in part because they have modified a key hypoxia-signaling pathway known as the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) cascade. I propose to use deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), which have naturally adapted to high-altitude, as a model to determine the molecular and genetic mechanisms by which heart, lung, and blood responses to hypoxia benefit from Darwinian selection on the HIF cascade. A mechanistic understanding of adaptation to hypoxia will yield insight into novel therapies in the treatment of diseases related to the loss of oxygen homeostasis.

Deer mice!