Her research: "My research focuses on the evolution and function of the unique organelles, called oil bodies, that are found in the cells of most liverworts (Marchantiophyta). Liverwort oil bodies, which are morphologically diverse across taxa yet fairly uniform within each taxon, are long-established taxonomic characters; however, their exact function in the cell is not known. I am mapping oil body, morphological, ecological, and life cycle characters onto a recent phylogeny in order to gain insight into oil body evolution and diversification, and to develop testable hypotheses of their function based on evolutionary trends and patterns. I plan to test one or more of these hypotheses. I am also using fossil data, particularly from the oldest known (Devonian and Carboniferous) liverwort fossils, to help ascertain the pleisiomorphic state of oil bodies, and will eventually be incorporating the fossils into the liverwort phylogeny."
How she found her way to science: "I am interested in all aspects of early land plant evolution and the transition of plants to land. I have a particular interest in liverworts because they occupy an important position as the sister group to the rest of the land plants and because they are beautiful yet bizarre, like plants that evolved on another (perhaps smaller) planet. I have a BFA and worked in the animation industry and commercial art world for many years. I discovered liverworts when my art took a turn toward macrophotography; in order to learn to identify the organisms I was photographing, I signed up to be a docent for Audubon Canyon Ranch, a local environmental education organization. I was immediately hooked on the biological sciences. I've been back to ACR several times to lead workshops for new docents about liverworts. I love spreading the word about these incredibly diverse and strangely beautiful little plants!"