May: Aubrie James


I am a fourth year PhD student in Monica Geber’s lab. I am working on understanding how four species of Clarkia, an annual wildflower native to California, interact when they’re neighbors. When you see one Clarkia species, it is likely that you will find another close by–they occur together in plant communities more often than not, and actually have been shown to benefit from living with each other. Why do these particular plants seem to get along so well? In part, it is due to the fact that Clarkia species share pollinators. In flowering plant communities, we generally see that more plants attract more pollinators, so living in a dense, diverse Clarkia community should be a good thing for Clarkia plants in need of pollination. However, with more plants comes more competition for other resources, such as water and light. My work focuses on determining if and when the benefits of pollinator attraction outweigh the costs of competition that Clarkia plants incur from living in dense and diverse Clarkia communities.
Aside from my dissertation work, I read, think about, and try to help disrupt and dismantle power dynamics that hurt people in and outside of the academy. I also enjoy hiking, catching bees, fishing, prime numbers, and naps.