I began my academic career studying marine biology at the College of Charleston with an interest in biological oceanography, which led me to an interdisciplinary marine science master's program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. After working on the molecular ecology of coastal diatoms as part of my thesis, I landed a position at Vanderbilt, quite unrelated to marine biology or oceanography, working on the endosymbiotic Wolbachia bacteria. Here I studied the effects of this parasite on the reproductive cycles of arthropod hosts as well as horizontal gene transfer that occurs between different Wolbachia that simultaneously infect a single host. My interest in the Simmons lab lies in the use of next generation sequencing to more accurately and thoroughly explore genetic variation and function. I am particularly interested in the rate and scale of horizontal gene transfer within a community, as well as its implications for microbial adaptation to environmental changes.