Our research is focused on understanding the genetic basis of natural variation in life history traits using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model organism. We are particularly interested in identifying genes that control age-specific changes in traits that directly contribute to senescence and ultimately limit life span. These traits include age-specific reproduction, immune response and energy storage. We are also actively studying the ecology of natural populations of Drosophila to identify the agents of selection acting on genes controlling these traits. Our goal is to combine knowledge of the natural history of this species with an understanding of the genetic architecture of these traits to help explain the maintenance of genetic variation in age-related changes in fitness in natural populations.
I am also co-director of a new undergraduate training program at UMBC supported by the National Science Foundation (Undergraduate Training Program in Biology and Mathematics or UBM@UMBC). You can find out more about this program at the following link: http://www.umbc.edu/ubm/