The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) is an invasive species throughout the Great Lakes of North America. Each adult lamprey kills up to 40 lbs of commercial fish during its lifecycle and modern control measures have been in place since the 1950s to combat this incredible loss to native fish populations. With the potential for genome editing and genetic control mechanisms on the horizon, an outstanding evolutionary question in all lampreys is, "What is their sex determination system?" It remains to be seen if sea lamprey have sex chromosomes, another form of genetic sex determination, strictly environmental sex determination, or if sex determination depends on both genetic and enviromental factors. Since September of 2019, I have been a post-doctoral fellow funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and supervised by Dr. Margaret Docker and Dr. Colin Garroway at the University of Manitoba, and Dr. Alison Wright at the University of Sheffield. We are combining comparative genomics and population genetics to investigate the mechanism for sex determination in this invasive species. This project will bolster the bioinformatics skills I developed during my PhD and expose me to cutting-edge techniques in population genomics.
I am broadly interested in the genomics of adaptation. Prior to my PhD, I spent time studying the natural histories of some species in the field and the rapidly evolving proteins of others in the laboratory. In thinking about my PhD, I wanted to combine these two disparate lines of investigation to link genotype to phenotype and uncover the genomic patterns responsible for changes to natural history traits. Working with Dr. Scott Edwards and Dr. Cliff Tabin (at the Museum of Comparative Zoology and the Harvard Medical School Department of Genetics, respectively) I investigated the convergent genomic changes that occur as multiple birds within a clade transition from volant to flightless lifestyles. I believe that integrative projects at the intersection of genomics and evolutionary developmental biology (Evo-Devo) will greatly enrich our understanding of this fundamental line of evolutionary inquiry.
My Honors and MSc:
In 2011, I received the Gold Metal for my BSc Honours in Biology at the University of Winnipeg examining the behavioural ecology of red-winged blackbirds. I focused primarily on the effect of certain brood characteristics, such as the number, age and hatch-order of nestlings, and the presence or absence of brood parasitic (brown-headed cowbird) nestlings on the allocation of paternal care in this polygynous species. During my Master’s degree, I conducted research on the evolution of male reproductive gene families (ADAM and IZUMO) in mice and other eutherian mammals. I received my Master's degree from the University of Winnipeg in the fall of 2013, before journeying to Harvard to begin my PhD. Both my MSc and my PhD have been generously supported by NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships.