2010 B.S. Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity, University of California Davis
I started as a PhD student in Fall 2014. I am co-advised by Jeremy Brown and Chris Austin and I split my time between the Biology Department and LSU Museum of Natural History.
As a herpetologist and evolutionary biologist I am interested in exploring patterns in phylogenetics and species diversification in non-model species. The recent progress in genome wide sequencing and compulation resources provide a wealth of data. I am interested in what this abundance of data can tell us about the patterns of speciation and how our analyses and treatment of these large datasets affect our inferences about the evoluitonary history.
Current Research Interests
More specifically I am curious as to how the processes of genetic diversification before and after speciation and divergence affect future patterns of biodiversity. How can we use phylogenies to infer past patterns and processes of diversity from current patterns, while incorporating natural history and molecular evolution?
An important part of research for me is thoroughly exploring my methods of data collection and analysis. With the many flavors of genome-wide data collection one question I have is how these different approaches interact with our current models and influence our inferences. I am more generally interested in the best methods for assessing the fit of our models to our data and how we can best understand whether a lack fo fit is due to systematic error of interesting evolutionary processes that our model has not accounted for.
All of my research is motivated by a background of conservation genetics using new approaches to better understand and conserve the current biodiversty. I am also continually motivated by a love of natural history, a fascination with molecular evolution, and my inner computer nerd.
I am also motivated by any excuse to go herping in the desert.
Left- Granite night lizard, Xantusia henshawii, at Anza Borrego, California. Right- And a Plains spadefoot,Spea bombifrons, near Carlsbad, New Mexico
I spent three years after graduating as a laboratory technician/manager for Dr. Brad Shaffer at UC Davis and UC Los Angeles. I worked on the lab work and fieldwork for a wide variety of conservation genetic, phylogenetic and phylogeography research projects.
Some of my favorite projects were managing a breeding colony of endangered California Tiger Salamanders, and DNA sequencing for a phylogeny of over 300 species of turtles, and helping to develop and test novel next generation capture array probes for California Tiger Salamanders.
McCartney-Melstad, E., G. G. Mount and H. B. Shaffer. 2016. Exon capture optimization in amphibians with large genomes. Moleculary Ecology Resources doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12538
Spinks, P. Q., R. C. Thomson, G. B. Pauly, C. E. Newman, G. G. Mount and H. B. Shaffer. 2013. Misleading phylogenetic inferences based on single-exemplar sampling in the turtle genus Pseudemys . Molecular Phylogenetic and Evolution 68:269-281
Seineing for endangered California Tiger Salamander, Ambystoma californiense, larvae with Adam Clause. (Photo credit Ben Johnson)
Noosing a Chuckwalla, Sauromalus ater, on a herpetology field trip in the Mojave Desert, California.
Western banded gecko, Coleonyx variegatus, crossing a road in the Mojave Desert, California.