Visiting Scientist, Brodie Insect Science Laboratory, Ohio University
We conduct research in the area of insect ecology and conservation. Specifically, the research focuses on understanding communication pathways in insects (inter- and intra-specific communication), and plant-insect interactions. We use state of the art chemical ecology, behavioral ecology and physiology methods to advance our knowledge of insect ecology (foraging, sensory perception, and preferences) in particular for sustainable pollination (e.g., flies) and forest entomology (e.g., longhorn beetles) applications, and to develop viable monitoring techniques and strategies for threatened and endangered insect species. To tackle these research avenues, we use a combination of laboratory assays, field experiments and surveys, and chemistry and chemical ecology methods (compound identification via mass spectrometry [GC-MS] and electro-antennogram [EAD]).
2015 – Present
Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre for Environmental Research, University of Bucharest
I secured funding ($10,000) from Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, and designed and implemented field studies to survey endangered, threatened, and vulnerable longicorn beetles in traditionally maintained forests within the Iron Gates Natural Park, Romania. Collaborated with scientists in Romania, Canada, and the United States, and mentored and advised Romanian students and researchers as assistants in the project. Taught field sections for University of Bucharest students, Masters of Integrated Environmental Assessment (Evaluarea Integrata a Starii Mediului in Romanian). Preliminary data is used towards applying for additional conservation research via European Union LIFE Nature program.
PhD Candidate, Animal/Insect Communication Ecology Laboratory, Simon Fraser University (http://www.sfu.ca/gries-lab.html)
Designed field and laboratory studies on blow flies on three main topics: 1) foraging, 2) rapid location of oviposition resources, and 3) intraspecific communication. Developed skills in setting hypotheses, conducting experiments, data analysis and interpretation, and scientific writing. Managed and reared Lucilia sericata, L. illustris, Phormia regina, and Sarcophaga ruficornis for use in experiments and as food for black widow spiders and bald faced hornets. Collaborated with other laboratory members on identification of host-finding kairomones for staphylinid beetles feeding on skunk cabbage, and development of a novel trap bait for rats. Provided objectives and insight for future projects to Contech Enterprises Inc. Mentored 12 undergraduate research students on their own projects and as assistants in my project. Taught laboratory sections for upper division undergraduate course in Insect Biology.
Analytical Chemist, Sawyer Environmental Chemistry Research Laboratory, University of Maine
Performed analytical chemical analyses using: inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy, graphite furnace, wet chemistry analyzers, total organic carbon analyzers, AlpKem automatic analyzer for Nitrate/Nitrite, and mercury analysis. Provided results in support of projects on chemistry of surface water, ground water, soil and sediment chemistry and biological responses to perturbations in aquatic chemistry. Collected field samples under adverse conditions. Advised external research teams outside on the use and applications of analytical chemical equipment. Developed and refined methods and sample preparation procedures for complex or unusual situations. Analyzed and interpreted data, and wrote internal research reports.
MS Student, Forest Entomology/ Chemical Ecology Laboratory, State University of New York, Syracuse (http://www.esf.edu/EFB/)
Conducted chemical ecological research on the pine sawyer beetle, Monochamus scutelatus, and assisted in similar research on the Asian longhorned beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis, and Xylotrechus sp. Designed field and laboratory experiments leading to the elucidation of pheromone communication systems. Became proficient in: coupled gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric analysis (GC-MS), coupled gas chromatographic-electroantennographic detection analysis (GC-EAD), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), infrared (IR) spectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry (NMR). Conducted hundreds of olfactometer bioassays. Prepared extracts of study compounds. Managed and organized laboratory, including: ordering and shipping insects for research, ordering chemicals and glassware, and maintaining/updating permits for quarantined insects. Taught laboratory sections for upper division undergraduate course in Elements of Entomology.
Business Manager, Cranberry Lake Research Station, State University of New York (www.esf.edu/campuses/clbs/)
Collaborated with director to develop classes for both the Cranberry Lake The Ranger School of Forestry (Wanakena, NY). Coordinated operations and communications. Organized student registration and activities, and purchased classroom and laboratory equipment for up to 15 courses. Hired and supervised 8 full-time undergraduate work-study students.
Environmental Educator, United States Peace Corps, Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands
Assisted Fiji National Trust with development of a National Heritage Reserve; developed eco-tourism education programs for the villagers involved. Initiated a sustainable income-generating apiary for the Waisali Women’s Club. Developed an anti-bacterial skin application from propylis and coconut oil.