Research and professional interests

I am fascinated by the high diversity of the montane forests and high-elevation systems of the northern Andes and the evolutionary processes that might help explain it. I have devoted most of my carrier to studying different aspects of pleurothallid orchids, and I am also interested in highland vegetation. Thanks to collaborators and friends, I developed an interest in selected groups of non-flowering plants; in summary, plants don’t stop surprising me.

Diversity, orchids, and pollinators

Most of my career has been devoted to studying orchids, and I focused my efforts on studying different clades of the subtribe Pleurothallidinae. This incredibly diverse group encompasses more than 4000  species. Pleurothallids are fascinating because of their relatively small-sized-flowers that are morphologically diverse, plus not a lot is known of their autecology is known. Hence, there are many things to discover.

I started my career studying the pollination of Dracula orchids. I transitioned to work in taxonomy and collaborated on monographs of several groups of Pleurothallids. Graduate school opened the door to molecular systematics, and I am currently interested in using phylogenetic frameworks to explore different evolutionary questions.



Taxonomy, morphology, and artificial intelligence

I was initially trained as an alpha taxonomist, and I use collections (herbarium vouchers, spirit, and live) to generate phenotypic datasets for phylogenetic inference (e.g., character evolution).

I collaborated with projects that try to automate the generation of phenotypic characters so they can be incorporated into the evolutionary analysis.   These fascinating initiatives are creating the infrastructure that enables computers to extract information from taxonomic descriptions and convert them into usable formats…and it works! 

Herbarium Curation and capacity building

I am committed to exploring, documenting, and preserving biodiversity. I am currently in my dream job, the Curator of the Clemson Herbarium.

In this position, I aim to facilitate science, train the next generation of botanists and raise the botanical literacy of the different communities in the region.