Microbial ecology and evolution
Natural environments harbour a vast diversity of microbial species. Within these communities, microbes interact with each other both directly or indirecly through their shared environment. Such interactions are most often competitive due to competition for shared limiting resources or the production of compounds- e.g. toxins or antibiotics- that inhibit or kill competitors. But sometimes, microbes engage in exploitative or mutually beneficial interactions (mutualisms) by exchanging resources and/or services.
I am interested in understanding how such microbe-microbe interactions and microbes' interactions with their environment shape the assembly and dynamics of microbial communities, what are the consequences of these interactions for microbiome function and stability, and ultimately, how can we use this knowledge to manipulate microbiomes for improving health.
Currently, I am a postdoc in the Sanchez lab (Yale University) working with soil microbial communities to understand how microbial communities assemble in simple environments. Previously, I have used mathematical models and computer simulations to understand how interactions between individual species influence the emergent function and spatial organization of microbial communities, and what factors favour the emergence of microbial interdependencies -- first as a PhD student with Sam Brown (University of Edinburgh) and then as a postdoc with Ben Kerr (University of Washington). For more info on my current & past research, see Research and Publications.