Plants can live, thrive, and survive in nearly every environment imaginable: from low altitude swamps to high altitude deserts, from the Antarctic peninsula to the Saharan Desert. Ecological physiology (ecophysiology) is about understanding the mechanisms behind how plants live and persist in their environment.
My research focuses on photosynthesis – the process by which plants convert carbon dioxide into sugars using light energy – and the physiological mechanisms behind plant stress tolerance. Extreme temperatures can cause photosynthesis to become dysfunctional: high temperatures can cause proteins to denature and lose function, while low temperatures can cause energy imbalances as enzyme function slows down. However, some plant species have special adaptations to adjust the machinery of photosynthesis to handle high and/or low temperature stress. My goal is to understand how these adaptations work and the timescales involved in acquiring stress tolerance (e.g. can the plant inherently tolerate high temperatures, or does it require an acclimation period to adjust). I address my research questions using techniques ranging from biochemistry and elemental analysis to gas exchange and modeling.
I am currently open and looking for collaborative opportunities. If you wish to contact me regarding opportunities or questions about my research, you can find my contact information here.