I am a wildlife ecologist, specifically interested in tri-trophic interactions in African savannas. I am particularly interested in the ecological impacts of plants, herbivores, and predators of the herbivores on each other. My research interests can be grouped into three main categories: plant chemical defenses, predation risk, and food rewards. I use aspects of behavioral ecology, physiology, evolution, and chemical ecology to address ecological questions at the population and community levels. For more details about my research, please visit my Research Interests page.
I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) Ndlovu (savanna) Node, with affiliations at the University of California Santa Barbara, Duke University and the Rory Hensman Conservation and Research Unit. My current postdoctoral research largely focuses on understanding community-level landscapes of fear in South African savannas and exploring the consequences of woody thickening to these patterns.
I became interested in African savanna ecology as an undergraduate at the University of California Santa Cruz. While I was an undergraduate at UCSC, I spent a semester abroad at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. There, I studied South African terrestrial ecology, which sparked my interest in African savanna ecology.
Once I graduated from UCSC with a BS in Ecology and Evolution in 2012, I returned to University of KwaZulu-Natal to do a Ph.D. focused on the influences of plant secondary metabolites on the foraging behaviour and carrying capacities of the African elephant, Loxodonta africana. After finishing my Ph.D. in 2017, I became a Claude Leon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and started my current postdoctoral research appointment.
Although a majority of my current work is conducted in African savannas, I have extensive field experience working in both terrestrial North American systems (redwood forest and dry chaparral) as well as in Pacific coral reefs. My time spent in these other systems has informed the way I approach my African savanna work.