Hello! I joined UCR’s Heteropteran Systematics Lab during the summer of 2014 to begin work on my Master’s degree. I have been fascinated by insects for as long as I can remember, but didn’t really picture entomology as a viable career for myself until I was an undergraduate student studying biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While earning my B.S., I examined the diversity and host specificity of parasitic wasps in Dr. Jim Whitfield’s lab and mating behavior of longhorn beetles in Dr. Larry Hanks’ lab.
At UCR, my current focus is on using molecular data to resolve the phylogeny of ambush bugs in the genus Phymata (Hemiptera: Reduviidae). Small, cryptic and easily overlooked, ambush bugs comprise a diverse group of predatory true bugs that rely on camouflage and powerful raptorial forelegs to capture prey. These enigmatic insects can exhibit a great amount of morphological variation within populations, making identification and classification elusive. Apart from my interest in entomology, I also really enjoy exploring mountains, long distance running and restoring native ecological communities from degraded habitats.