An important recent approach used by scientists worldwide involves putting the genes of one type of organism into another. This research has led to significant new discoveries and applications. In the field of agriculture, the goal of such genetic manipulations is to increase production. These genetic techniques are quite powerful and can affect our world greatly. Thus, it is critical to obtain the benefits of this technology while not also suffering any detriments associated with it. The main goal of our research is to predict the degree of risk associated with a genetically modified organism before it is released into nature so that ways can be devised to not damage our environment.
My lab focuses on both how nature works (basic biology) and how biological phenomena relate to human activities or concerns (applied biology). We use an evolutionary approach; that is, we ask how the traits of organisms are either naturally selected (increase individual survival) or sexually selected (increase individual mating success). The potential ecological risks associated with the release of a genetically modified organism into nature is the subject of a recent study my lab is conducting in collaboration with a professor in the Animal Sciences department.