I create and apply novel methods to test how global change has affected damage to plants by insect herbivores and pathogens.
My Ph.D. work at NC State University showed that ‘urban heat islands’—warming in cities caused by asphalt, sidewalk, and other hard surfaces—increase the number of insect pests on street trees while reducing photosynthesis and the amount of carbon stored by trees. This was the first study to use urban heat islands as built-in climate change experiments, in which entire cities have been warmed for over a century.
Now I am a postdoc at the Harvard University Herbaria and McGill University, where I developed methods to use historical specimens to track how plant damage has shifted with global change.
Photo by Aimée Classen