Research

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Science is a way of thinking.

I am a Ph.D. student in Stanford University's Department of Biology. I work with Tadashi Fukami studying the effects of genetic variation on community-level processes, such as how species interact and ecological communities assemble over time. I am interested in understanding how gene editing and bioengineering will impact the environment.

I am a Stanford Graduate Fellow (2017-2022) and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow (2017-2020). Before coming to Stanford, I completed a concurrent undergraduate/graduate (M.Sc.) degree at the University of Michigan in Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology.

 
Icons by Melissa Schmitt and the Noun Project; graphic design by Callie Chappell

Icons by Melissa Schmitt and the Noun Project; graphic design by Callie Chappell


Stanford University Biology Department: Fukami Lab

Today, biologists have the power to read and write genomes using gene editing technology, yet ecologists and conservationists have struggled to keep up the with environmental implications of such technology. The majority of bioengineered organisms will be “wild” organisms; for example, editing plants and animals for food, plants, microbes and fungi for industrial biotechnology (biofuels and biomaterials) and insects or other organisms for biological control (gene drives, invasive species, de-extinction). Ecologists must understand the effects of genetic variation on community and ecosystem processes to predict the environmental impacts of such technology.

In the Fukami lab, I study how genetic diversity influences community processes such as species interactions and community assembly. To do this, I am using various genetic and genomic tools in a ecologically-relevant model system, floral nectar-inhabiting bacteria and yeast, that allows us to integrate lab and field experiments. I want to know how single genes and population-level genetic variation influences ecological processes.

In my PhD, I am studing the genetic basis of community processes across spatial and temporal scales. Current research projects address four fundamental questions in ecology and evolution:

  1. How does intraspecific genetic variation influence community assembly?

  2. What is the molecular and mechanistic basis for higher order interactions?

  3. Can we use functional beta diversity to infer community assembly processes in a metacommunity?

  4. What effect does community assembly have on eco-evolutionary dynamics in metacommunities?


Study System

Microbes — bacteria and yeast—live in the nectar of flowers and arrive in flowers through pollinators like birds and bees. Some researchers in the Fukami lab study how microbial communities in floral nectar assemble over time and space to gain insight into fundamental ecological processes.

Genetic & Genomic tools

I use multi-omics (transcriptiomics, metabolomics), meta-omics (metagenomics, metatranscriptomics), and gene editing (CRISPR-Cas, transposon mutagenesis) to study the genetic basis of complex traits their impact on ecological processes such as species interactions and community assembly.

Publications

1. Chappell Callie R. & Fukami Tadashi. Nectar yeasts: a natural microcosm for ecology. Yeast (2018).