The Ohio State University
Growing up just outside of New Orleans, I was unexpectedly introduced to carnivorous pitcher plants as part of a third-grade science lesson. I was amazed that such unbelievable plants could grow so close to home, literally right in my teacher's back yard. Many years later, after earning degrees in Biological Sciences (B.S.) and Botany (M.S) at Mississippi State University and honing my skills in bioinformatics and statistics, I've come back around to study those same strange plants.
I am fascinated by the evolution of novel functions, which makes a carnivorous plant an ideal system. By using advanced genome and transcriptome sequencing methods, combined with supercomputer assembly and annotation, I hope to find out how plants were able to develop functional digestive systems. This will include identification of the individual genes responsible for the production of digestive enzymes, and their evolutionary background. In the case of Sarracenia, it is also important to investigate the role of the plant's microbial symbionts in the breakdown of trapped insect prey.