Upon my graduation, I thought I'd give a little update. The thesis defense last month was successful and the final draft of my dissertation has been submitted! My thesis was on the communities of non-photoautotrophic bacteria associated with lichens. This research broke a lot of new ground in terms of using high-throughput pyrosequencing and cutting-edge bioinformatics to examine the phylogenetic, ecological, and functional complexity of the lichen microbiome. My hope is that my dissertation will contribute to science through both the data that I have generated and the set of tools that I have developed. I have talked a little about some of the bioinformatics tools that I have developed in previous posts here, but I will continue to post additional elements of my thesis, especially as they are published in peer-reviewed journals.
The graduation itself gave me a final chance to reflect on the great opportunities that have been made available to me at Duke University. Here you can see me chillin' out after the hooding ceremony:
This week I'm in the process of moving up to NY to start my postdoctoral research on the systematics of lichen-forming fungi at the New York Botanical Garden. I will be working with Dr. Richard C. Harris and James Lendemer, focusing on long-standing problems in Eastern North American lichen taxonomy, while testing a number of specific ecological and biogeographical hypotheses. Addressing many of these issues will require cutting-edge bioinformatics tools that I have developed or am in the process of developing with a network of collaborators in diverse fields.