I am fascinated by the high diversity of the montane forests and high elevation systems of the northern the Andes as well as the evolutionary processes that might help explain it. I have devoted most of my carrier studying different aspects of pleurothallid orchids and I am also interested in highland vegetation and most recently (thanks to my postdoc guru and his friends) I have special interest in flagellate plants.
Diversity, orchids and pollinators
Most of my career has been devoted to the study of orchids and I focused my efforts to study different clades of the subtribe Pleurothallidinae, an extremely diverse group that 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 autoecology is known so there are many things to discover.
I started my career studying pollination of Dracula orchids. I transitioned to work in taxonomy and collaborated in monographs of several groups of Pleurothallids. Graduate school opened the door to molecular systematic and I am currently interested in using phylogenetic frameworks to explore different evolutionary questions…. more to come soon!
Taxonomy, morphology and artificial intelligence
I was initially trained as an alpha-taxonomist and I consider it to be my superpower. I use collections (herbarium vouchers, spirit and live) to generate phenotypic datasets and used the in phylogenetic inference (e.g., character evolution).
Most recently (for my postdoc) I am collaborating with projects that try to automate the generation of phenotypic characters so they can be incorporated in evolutionary analysis. These fascinating initiatives are creating the infrastructure enable computers extract information from taxonomic descriptions and convert them into usable formats…and it works! We have some soon to be published, fantastic results!