My research program is focused on the study of multitrophic interactions in ecosystems such as digestive tracts of insects and soil. Besides my scientific work, I also have a record of commitment to reducing the barriers in research for underrepresented students, including people of color, women, and LGBT individuals. Specific focus topics of research include: 1. The study of arthropods as microbial bioreactors. 2. Co-evolution of insects’ digestive tract physical structure and microbial function for the transformation of recalcitrant molecules such as lignocellulose. 3. Environmental engineering and regulation of ecosystem services driven by the multitrophic interactions among the members of the food web of complex ecosystems, their contributions to ecosystems function, and responses to environmental change.
As a scientist, my goal is to develop and apply innovations in the fields of molecular biology, biotechnology, bioinformatics, and chemical engineering using multidisciplinary tools to understand the mechanisms that control multitrophic interactions in diverse biological systems. I combine my passion for the study of the arthropod microbiome with my continuing fascination with soil complexity, to work on a research line that considers the cross-kingdom interactions (the associations between bacteria, fungi, protists, and nematodes), host-microbe interactions in soil microarthropods (ticks, springtails, mites), and the effect of these associations on processes such as biogeochemical cycling, biomass conversion, the evolution of the microbiome in the environment.