I was raised in rural Northern New Jersey with a strong sense of environmental ethics, which is
where my interest in Ecology begins. My desire to understand how humans impact the natural world (and vise versa) brought me to the College of the Atlantic in Maine for a unique liberal arts undergraduate degree. Here, I discovered mathematics in the service of modeling natural systems, albeit through Physics initially. Although I had several great experiences doing research in Physics through undergraduate internships with Susan McKay and Dave Feldman, and Jim Crutchfield and Cosma Shalizi via a Santa Fe Institute REU, I did not go in this direction. Instead, I eventually found Tony Ives in Madison, WI and discovered that theoretical Ecology was what I really wanted to do (after a five-year break from school that involved having kids, learning how to build houses, and several years of making studio furniture). After an awesome five years in the Ives Lab, two of which were spent as an NSF IGERT Fellow thinking about Novel Ecosystems, I moved my whole family to Switzerland to become a postdoc in the Levine Lab at ETH Zurich.