I’ve been enamored with insects since I was seven when a mass emergence of cicadas in my hometown filled our trees and our days with surround sound. As children, we collected the exuviae hanging on plants, and if we were lucky, we’d catch an adult. In college I learned that you could take classes in entomology! For my last two years of college, I had amazing outdoor adventures exploring the Texas fauna. After a short stint working in the video game industry, I decided to study freshwater aquatic insects for my graduate work and continue my studies in streams and rivers in Western North America, especially California.
My research focuses on the life history of freshwater aquatic insects and I’m especially interested in how the timing of life cycle stages can vary between streams. Most of my work examines caddisflies, a group of insects closely-related to moths and butterflies, that spend the majority of their lives in an aquatic larval stage that builds a case or retreat. In California, stream conditions can vary from year-to-year, and some stream flow all year, while other flow only during the wet seasons,. In these steams, we can compare how life cycles and behavior change in response to flow conditions. I’m also interested in documenting the biodiversity of our California streams to help broaden our understanding of species diversity and changes in distributions over the past 100 years.
As a lecturer for UC Berkeley’s Environmental Sciences Program, I mentor senior undergraduate students during their Senior Thesis Research Projects and teach scientific writing and statistics. My other projects and interests include building databases to store biodiversity, taxonomy, and scientific literature information (www.trichopteralit.umn.edu) and I enjoy brainstorming and making specialized sampling and lab equipment.