My work at Dickinson College balances research productivity with undergraduate teaching and research. At Dickinson we train young scientists. I teach courses in biochemistry, metabolism, physiology, and marine ecology. I’ve had the good fortune to mentor nearly fifty undergraduate students in my research program. I serve as the co-investigator of a National Science Foundation research program for curricular innovation and directed the first Global Scholars study abroad program at the college.
I am a broadly-trained biochemist and coastal ecologist who studies carbon metabolism in plants and animals. Lately, my work has focused on how sugars are transported in plants and converted the natural products that serve as antibiotics, herbivore deterrents, chemical cues, nutritional supplements, and other potential drugs. My lab specializes in studies of plant phenolic substances, such as tannins, lignins, and smaller compounds with antimicrobial properties. I’m particularly interested in how these compounds are produced in response to stress and changing environments. The way that plants use carbon, moving it among above- and a below-ground modules and synthesizing carbon-based products, influences global carbon cycling.
My laboratory is currently investigating the effects of ocean acidification and sea level rise on the metabolism of coastal plants, such as seagrasses, which may serve a important sinks of blue carbon. We also track the flow of carbon in trees and crop plants.
This work has been supported by awards from the National Science Foundation and published in journals such as PLoS ONE, New Phytologist, Frontiers in Plant Science, and the Marine Ecology Progress Series.
I am also involved in efforts to screen marine natural products for the ability to inhibit the aggregation of amyloid proteins, such as those occurring in Alzheimer’s disease.