Rebecca is a second-year graduate student. Her research is focused on phylogenetics and the evolution of traits in avian systems. She has a number of projects to preoccupy her time while she finalizes the details of her dissertation.
Species tree inference
Rebecca is investigating how biological factors and evolutionary processes influence the outcome of species tree inference. She uses simulated data and empirical studies to develop strategic sampling designs that improve phylogenetic accuracy.
Evolution of nesting behavior in megapodes
Unique among birds, megapodes (Family: Megapodiidae) rely entirely on environmental heat sources – solar radiation, geothermal heat, and microbial decomposition – to incubate their eggs. They harness these heat sources via two main nesting strategies: 1) mound-building or 2) burrow-nesting. Rebecca has constructed a time-calibrated species tree for all megapodes to reconstruct the evolutionary history of nesting behavior and island biogeography.