GK-12 Fellow 2012, 2013
I am an evolutionary biologist and a functional morphologist. In my research, I explore the relationship between the form and function of the skulls of fishes. I am especially enamored by cleaning behavior in fishes, whereby a species picks off ectoparasites and/or damaged tissues from other fishes. This feeding strategy has evolved a number of times in various families of fishes, which gives me the opportunity to explore how convergent cleaner fishes are from a morphological standpoint. Has evolution selected for similar traits each time cleaning has evolved? Or is there more than one way to build a cleaner?
As a SCWIBLES Fellow, I gained valuable in-class experience that led me to appreciate how effective inquiry-based education can be. I have watched a number of Watsonville High School students transition from positions of indifference to those in which they take responsibility for their own learning. Although I ultimately aim to be a university professor, I feel that teaching and interacting with students at the high school level has helped me further one of my personal goals: to be able to make science fun and interesting for anyone.