Urban Ecology and Climate Change Research


I’m fascinated by the ecological and evolutionary responses of plants to changing environmental conditions. This includes both global climate change and our ever expanding cities. I’m interested in a range of questions surrounding this large topic. Some of these include: How have plants evolved in response to the selective pressures of urbanization? How might plants respond as the climate continues to change? What are the consequences of these plant responses for other organisms, including humans?

In addition, in the past few years I have been increasingly interested in environmental justice in urban areas. In particular, I’m interested in disparities in the distribution of ‘good’ (well maintained parks, pollinator gardens) vs ‘bad’ (overgrown weedy areas, vacant lots, allergenic species) plants or greenspaces in urban areas. How does the availability and quality of greenspaces vary across an urban area? Which historical policies may have led to these differences?

Post-doctoral research (2020 – onwards)

For my post-doc, I am quantifying the distribution of ragweed plants and pollen across Minneapolis with the goal of identifying both environmental and socioeconomic variables that contribute to pollen abundance. Which land-use types are most strongly associated with large ragweed populations? Are particular communities more at risk for pollen exposure and therefore greater asthma attacks? I’m excited to work collaboratively with researchers from different backgrounds (ecology! math! policy! health!) as well as connect academic research with community members in Minneapolis. You can read about this work in a blog post I published in Oct 2020

PhD research (2013-2019)

I completed my PhD in 2019 the Ecology, Evolution and Behavior graduate program at the University of Minnesota with David Moeller and Peter Tiffin. My dissertation research focused on understanding how urbanization and climate have shaped the ecology and evolution of common ragweed, a major allergen. To investigate this, I used collected populations of ragweed in urban and rural areas across the U.S. To learn more, see the sub-pages on the spatial scale of adaptation, and evolution in urban environments

Earlier research (2009-2013)

II completed my MSc in 2011 at the University of Toronto with John Stinchcombe. There I worked on species interactions, including the legume-rhizobium and plant-herbivore interaction, as well as leaf shape variation. I also completed some molecular and laboratory work in Arabidopsis and Capsella.