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My research interests broadly pertain to mammalian reproductive and social behavior. I am particularly interested in how the interaction among genetic, environmental, and endocrine factors shapes social affiliations and mating preferences. I am also interested in the role that communication plays in enabling animals to engage in adaptive social and reproductive interactions. Studying these questions at the proximate level requires utilizing an integrative approach that incorporates field behavioral ecology, captive manipulations, tests of cognitive ability, neuroendocrinology, and various molecular techniques. I also endeavor to ground these studies in a comparative framework, because elucidating the mechanisms that control variation in behavior within and across taxa furthers our understanding of how these behaviors evolve and are maintained.

My dissertation aims to investigate the effects of sociality on mammalian evolution, with an emphasis on the evolution of the innate and adaptive immune systems. By combining a genome-wide sequencing approach with population level sampling, I am characterizing general patterns of genomic differences between social and solitary species while testing a number of a priori hypotheses regarding the effects of group-living on the evolution of the immune system. This work has involved extensive efforts in molecular biology, next-generation sequencing, field biology, bioinformatics, computational modeling, and immunology. Whereas elucidating the factors that contribute to variation in the genetic components of the immune system will broaden understanding of how disease resistance evolves and is maintained, studying both the innate and adaptive immune systems within and across species is integral to appreciating the complex biological processes involved in disease immunity.