I started my career doing classic community ecology, asking questions related to plant-herbivore and predator-prey interactions. More recently, I have focused on bridging the gaps between community ecology and ecosystem ecology to understand how herbivores and predators can influence ecosystem-level processes, like carbon and nitrogen cycling. I use model invertebrate animal communities in a wide-range of ecosystems, including salt marshes and arid drylands, to mechanistically test the various pathways through which animals can affect the fate of nutrients on the landscape. For instance, I have projects evaluating how burrowing crabs affect the development of carbon and nitrogen cycling in restored salt marshes on the northern Gulf of Mexico and how snail mucus trails and feces enhance the rates of carbon cycling in arid drylands throughout the Negev Desert.
I also have research projects developing 1) nature-based solutions for coastal ecosystem resilience and 2) sustainable and ethical guidelines for field researchers in environmental science. My work on coastal resilience seeks to develop more effective restoration and creation practices for nature-based solutions in the Gulf of Mexico, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. My work on ethical field research brings together an interdisciplinary team of ecologists, social psychologists, and resource managers to understand how field research can impact the environment, how field researchers perceive their impacts, and how we can use normative behaviors to encourage researchers to adopt sustainable field practices.
In addition to research, I am passionate about mentorship and education. I have worked with the Ecological Society of America for several years to develop mentorship programs for early career ecologists from underrepresented backgrounds. I am also a vocal advocate for LGBT+ representation in STEM.