I am a PhD candidate in my sixth year at UChicago. I use microbes and molecular genetic techniques to answer questions about how evolution works in light of ecology. I consider myself very fortunate to belong to the diverse & incredibly bright group of researchers in Bergelson Lab!
My dissertation projects test the extent to which host ecology influences genome evolution in the plant-pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. I chose an experimental system of 6 strains of P. syringae paired with their native hosts, which include crop cultivars as well as the model host plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. First, I test for local adaptation in this system by measuring growth of each pathogen in its own & in each other’s native hosts. Second, I test whether each pathogen’s specific complement of accessory genes has adaptive potential by repeating the reciprocal inoculation with transposon mutant libraries of each pathogen. I am now tracking changes in pathogen gene frequencies over the course of infection, and developing a custom analysis pipeline with my wonderful labmate and collaborator Hanna Maerkle. I am at an exciting and fast-paced time in my PhD, and look forward to sharing my results!
Before moving to Chicago, I worked with Dr. Tim Cooper at the University of houston to earn my M.S. and produce two publications: one on costs of adaptation in specialists vs generalists (Evolution 2015), and the other on epistasis between mutations along an adaptive trajectory (Nature Ecology and Evolution 2017).
> Local adaptation and the accessory genome in an endemic plant-pathogen
2021 Ph.D. (expected) Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago. Advisor: Dr. Joy Bergelson. “Ecological adaptation & the genomic basis of pathogenicity in natural isolates of Pseudomonas syringae“
2013 M.S. Biology, Ecology and Evolution track, University of Houston. Advisor: Dr. Tim Cooper. “Experimental evolution with Escherichia coli in diverse resource environments: Jacks of all trades become masters of none”
2011 B.A. English, minor in Biology, University of Houston. Advisor: Dr. Tony Frankino.
Wünsche, A., Dinh, D. M., Satterwhite, R. S., Arenas, C. D., Stoebel, D. M., & Cooper, T. F. (2017). Diminishing-returns epistasis decreases adaptability along an evolutionary trajectory. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1, 0061. doi.org/10.1038/s41559-016-0061
Satterwhite, Rebecca and Tim F. Cooper. 2015. Constraints on adaptation of E. coli to mixed-resource environments increase over time. Evolution. doi: 10.1111/evo.12710.