I am an ecologist who studies plant-insect interactions. I am fascinated by the question of why some plants in an area are highly attacked by plant-eating insects, while other plants of the same kind seem to escape damage all together. My lab aims to figure out the factors that determine variability in invasive insect damage to a native plant with high conservation importance.
My interest in insects goes way back to the first periodic cicada emergence I experienced in 1990 (shout-out to Brood 13!). I collected a box-full of cicadas that I kept in my closet and I brought the cicadas to every "show and tell" for several years.
My interest in plants stems (pun intended) from my Girl Scout Gold Award project that I completed in 1999. I built a wildflower nature trail at a local county park and learned that plants were far more interesting than they are often given credit for.
I attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as an undergraduate and received my Ph.D. at Louisiana State University. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Florida State University, I began teaching at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. Lawrence University is a primarily undergraduate institution, which means that students are involved in all aspects of this research. My lab has been studying the Larinus weevil and Pitcher's thistle system along the Lake Michigan dunes in Door County since 2013. You can read our recent paper in the open access journal Global Ecology and Conservation https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2018.e00376