I am gay and I am an evolutionary biologist.//
I grew up in a small farming community in NW Missouri, with a graduating high school class of 13 people. My journey into science started through the National FFA Organization, where I loved competing in Career Development Events ranging from poultry evaluation to prepared public speaking. It was in these public speaking competitions that I became obsessed with researching and communicating the potential of genetic engineering technologies and the evolution of crops from their wild ancestors.
I majored in Biology at Missouri State University, and after spending a summer working in a lab at Iowa State University funded by the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program, I decided to pursue a PhD in Genetics and Genomics at Iowa State University. My dissertation uses cotton as a model system to understand the evolutionary significance of whole genome duplication events, and I use population genetics and comparative genomics to study how natural and human-mediated selection works differently in polyploid versus diploid plants.