Research

The main focus of my research is the eco-evolutionary dynamics of microbial populations. Microbes affect nearly every aspect of life on Earth, from carbon fixation to human health. Microbial communities often grow in aggregated forms, such as biofilms, because these structures offer protection from external factors such as predation and environmental fluctuations. The high density and cell-to-cell proximity in these microbial communities can greatly influence social microbial interactions, which in turn affect the spatial assortment of genotypes and community expansion dynamics. Investigating the spatio-temporal dynamics of microbial communities can provide fundamental insights into important ecological and evolutionary processes such as the spread of invasive species, the evolution of dispersal, the co-evolutionary dynamics of hosts and pathogens, and the spread of antibiotic resistance via horizontal gene transfer. Collectively, these processes have repercussions in medicine, industry and agriculture. My approach to biological problems is to combine genetic engineering, laboratory experimentation and theoretical modeling.