The overarching focus of my research is how trade-offs between sexual and natural selection underlie the diversification and evolution of sexual signals and signaling behavior. More specifically I am researching the how these trade-offs may have led to the evolution of dragonfly and damselfly (Insecta: Odonata) species capable of physiologically changing color. The existence of temperature-controlled physiological color change has already been established in Odonata, and individuals capable of this type of color change darken to “dark-phase” coloration below a specific temperature threshold then return to “bright-phase” coloration once the temperature rises back above it. I study this physiological color change premised on the theory that the bright-phase coloration is functioning as a sexual signal and that the ability to change color—and darken at times of vulnerability—likely evolved in these species as a complex solution to the opposing demands of signaling (sexual selection pressure) and camouflage (natural selection pressure).
I have several other research interests (see below) that are not directly related to my work with odonates, and I am open to researching these - as well those mentioned above - in other systems. Having the opportunity to work to answer these types of questions, or to research complex systems that require ingenuity, patience, and the chance to learn new skills, is my ultimate goal for a postdoctoral position.