My research interests and professional skills are in the area of molecular ecology and evolution with an emphasis on population genetics and phylogeny of plants.
Most of my work has been focused on the development and application of genetic markers in order to understand the contemporary and past distribution of genetic diversity in space. I have developed genetic markers for many species in the past, mostly microsatellites, but am now utilizing the latest approaches, such as high throughput sequencing to overcome some of the problems with traditional loci, such as hybridization and polyploidy.
I started my studies at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands and finished my Masters degree with a specialization in Marine Biology and Molecular Ecology. I continued my education at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and did my PhD at the Puerto Morelos Research Station on the Yucatan Peninsula. My research involved studying the population genetics of seagrasses where I conducted an exhaustive genetic study of the seagrass Thalassia testudinum, supervised by Dr. Brigitta I. van Tussenbroek and Dr. Daniel Piñero Dalmau.
My first postdoctoral position was with Prof Michelle Waycott at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, where I continued expanding our understanding of range scale population genetic diversity of seagrasses. During this period I also developed novel markers for several species to screen for individual level genetic identity. In 2012 I was given the opportunity to move to Adelaide to continue my professional career at the University of Adelaide and have since been working with Prof Waycott and Prof Andy Lowe. With Prof Waycott I continued my research on clonality and population structure of seagrasses, and have expanded my work into the study of plants that are endangered or of great concern in South Australia. I am also one of the core members of the Timber Tracking group led by Prof Lowe. I have utilized my experience in population genetics and clonality assessment to develop DNA based identification methods as a forensic tool to promote the legal and sustainable use of timber in the world’s forests. Using a high throughput sequencing approach we develop suits of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that can be readily screened for individualization of samples or for the assignment of samples to specific locations.
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