M.S., Ph.D., University of Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Science Center Rm. 367
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Evolutionary biologist with interest in conservation genetics.
The core of my research program involves the study of the ecological and evolutionary components of accumulation of diversity in island systems. Equally important is the study of forces that can threaten that diversity. Currently I am exploring the genetic impact of introduced species in an ecosystem that is hailed as an example for conservation efforts while under increasing pressure from tourism and development: The Galápagos Archipelago. Indeed, species introductions have been identified as the principal threat to the terrestrial ecosystems of the Galápagos islands. Within the scope of conservation genetics questions my research also explores the effects of reduction of connectivity between habitat patches on island endemics. New projects are focused on studies of introduced weevils in the US with the goal of performing genome wide explorations of genetic variation using Next Generation Sequencing to help clarify the genetic basis of invasion success. Our Galapagos-based research efforts enjoy the support of the Charles Darwin Research Station in Galápagos. Additionally, I have ongoing collaborations with colleagues in Argentina and at the Department of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard.
I believe that deep understanding of evolutionary processes and outcomes is pivotal across the many sub-disciplines that constitute the study of biology: from broad morphological patterns with the potential for generation of biodiversity, to medically applicable generation of microbial resistance. However, the purview of evolutionary ideas extends beyond biology to the realms of history, philosophy and sociology where students can benefit from a clear understanding of evolutionary evidence. I try to frame my contribution to the curriculum exactly in those terms, so as to provide the building blocks for the genetic basis of inheritance and evolution. I teach several courses at all levels of the curriculum, including introductory organismal biology, genetics and Conservation and Evolutionary genetics.Students are involved in every aspect of my research; from fieldwork to publication. Working in a research laboratory provides technical and intellectual challenges: students get training at the lab bench as well as an opportunity to analyze the research in a broader context through the dissemination of our results at scientific meetings and through publications where they take are encouraged to take full co-author responsibility.
In addition to my collaborative research with Wellesley undergraduates I enjoy maintaining the academic connections with my country of origin, Argentina. I do so by occasionally hosting Argentinian students in my laboratory and servings as co-advisor for PhD theses and postdoctoral fellowships.
My extracurricular activities include helping raise funds to support a day program for children with special needs in Hue, Vietnam and running after my two young children. I enjoy theatre and reading in my native language (Spanish) as well as salsa dancing (if I get a chance).