Tricia Rubi is broadly interested in integrating diverse approaches to better understand animal behavior, from learned and evolved behavioral strategies to physiological and genetic mechanisms. Tricia will join the lab in September as an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology (2016-2018). Her research will investigate spatial and temporal patterns in genetic and epigenetic diversity over the course of a range expansion. Specifically, she will focus on the northward range expansion of the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) in the Great Lakes region. This research will test the hypothesis that epigenetic diversity can compensate for reduced genetic diversity to facilitate colonization of novel environments at the leading edge of a range expansion. To test this hypothesis, Tricia will use historic museum specimens collected over the past 40 years. As part of this research, Tricia will conduct novel methylation analyses in historic tissues, an exciting new approach from the emerging field of museum epigenomics.
Tricia began her research career in molecular systematics, studying the population genetics of cutthroat trout as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado. As part of this work, she sequenced the DNA of museum specimens from the late 1800’s to infer historic movements between drainages; after graduating she continued this project as a contracted researcher for the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Subsequently, Tricia spent two years as lab manager for the Scorpion Systematics Lab at the American Museum of Natural History. Tricia’s interest began to shift to behavior, so she traveled to South Africa for a 7-moth field assistantship studying vervet monkeys for the Barrett-Henzi Lab (University of Lethbridge). Her primary focus was male-male agonism, however she collected data on diverse topics including predation, foraging, and maternal care. In 2010, Tricia began her Ph.D. work at the University of Minnesota in the Stephens Lab. Her dissertation research focused on complex communication – specifically, how receivers (the recipients of communicative signals) integrate and utilize the various components of complex signals.
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