I joined the Jones Lab in Fall 2014 after my undergraduate education at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas and an internship at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami, Florida. My research focuses on change in allele frequencies over time that potentially lead to population diversification (population genetics), and the environmental factors that may contribute to population differentiation. Studying the Neotropical tree, Cedrela odorata (Cedro; Spanish Cedar; Meliaceae), I use genomics and bioinformatics to assess variation within and among regional groups of Cedrela odorata and correlate genetic variation with geography, temperature, and precipitation. The practical application of my dissertation research will be a SNP array for the identification of the geographic origin of Cedrela odorata specimens. A SNP array for timber screening of Cedrela odorata is desirable because this species is listed on CITES Appendix III, which prohibits harvest and trade in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru. I am passionate about forest conservation and I hope that my current work may provide useful information regarding the enforcement timber trade regulations.
I addition to using genomics to study variation in trees, I also completed a project investigating regional differences in wood chemistry of western Oregon Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir). For this project, I used Direct Analysis in Real Time (Time of Flight) Mass Spectrometry (DART-TOFMS) to obtain and analyze full chemical profiles of wood cores from adult Douglas-fir trees. We identified minute differences in wood chemistry between trees grown in the Pacific Coast Range and the Cascade Range of Oregon. These differences allowed us to identify the origin of each wood core with ~75% accuracy on average. More testing is required, but DART-TOFMS may be useful for provenance identification for unknown wood specimens.
In addition to doing research at Oregon State, I am a host of a campus radio (KBVR Corvallis 88.7FM) talk show called Inspiration Dissemination. Each week we feature the research and personal stories of a graduate student at Oregon State. I love getting to know graduate students through the show and spreading the message about research at Oregon State.
Visit my professional blog. www.blogs.oregonstate.edu/finchnsnps