During my years of scientific preparation I have been blessed with many diverse experiences. As a sophomore in college, I participated in a workshop called Basic Experience in DNA Analysis and Genotyping, focused on characterizing the mtDNA haplogroups of samples all taken in Puerto Rico. Then, in 2012, I traveled to a small Andean-Quechua village in the Peruvian mountains and lived as humans did several hundred years ago. I taught English there in a rural school, and worked in organic potato and quinoa fields for a month. The following summer I was elected to work in an Ecology and Archeology research team in the Rio Bravo Conservation Area of northwest Belize, a natural reserve filled with Maya sites. By comparing tree species distribution, abundance, and diversity between areas with and without Maya soil transformation, we were attempted to understand how ancient land use and environment has affected present-day forests.
Despite my research experience, it wasn’t until spring semester of 2014 that I decided to pursue graduate studies. As a Multicultural Initiative in the Marine Sciences alum, I conducted independent research, studying the oxidative stress in a symbiotic intertidal sea anemone. This was the biggest immersion of my professional life into the environmental research field and it completely solidified my scientific goals. That following semester I was elected to work on a tree growth and mortality census in a xerofitic forest plot, where Columbia University, NY has ongoing phenology research. After completing this program I will begin graduate studies in the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta, Canada.
Nowadays, the environmental news around the globe is of climate change and its repercussions,. It is expected that forest dynamics will be affected and it is crucial to know to what extent the below ground effects will be. For this reason I will be assessing and researching how soil fungal community composition responds to a variety of single and cumulative boreal forest disturbances, such as mountain pine beetle, and determining if soil fungal communities can be remediated to promote post-disturbance pine seedling development.