My interest in the human microbiome started early in my undergraduate education while I was enrolled in a bioethics course taught by Dr. Larry Forney. I joined the Forney lab in 2007 to work on vaginal microbiome research, just as the field was rapidly gaining momentum and transitioning to high-throughput sequencing. After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I stayed at Idaho to pursue a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology studying the diversity and dynamics of vaginal microbial communities. In addition to microbiological and molecular techniques, I developed skills in computational analysis of microbial communities and complex biomedical metadata, comparative and evolutionary genomics of bacteria, metagenomics, multivariate statistics, and data visualization.
Today my research interests include assembly and functional diversity of host-associated microbial communities, effects of host-microbe-environment interactions on community stability and function, and bacterial genome diversity and evolution. Other topics I am passionate about include improving diversity and equality in STEM; science outreach and communication (follow me on Twitter); and open science and research reproducibility (see my latest efforts on GitHub and SlideShare).