My overall goal is to apply the methods that scientists have developed for pharmacological and medicinal research to ecological and evolutionary questions. Modern molecular methods, from microarrays to next generation sequencing, have the potential to revolutionize the way we study ecosystems, habitats and species. I am particularly enamored with venomous animals, as their complex chemical cocktails fascinate me.
My dissertation research focused on the Pteroinae, or lionfishes, a unique venomous fish subfamily. I examined the evolution of the most lethal toxin proteins present in their venomous spines, scorpaenitoxins, as well as asked some fundamental questions about the evolution and phylogeography of these fishes. You can read my dissertation here.
As a postdoctoral scholar, I have focused on another venomous marine group: the Cnidaria, particularly box jellies (family Cubozoa). Jellies are armed with some of the deadliest venoms on the planet, and yet, much remains unknown about these gelatinous invertebrates. My postdoctoral research, directed by Dr. Angel Yanagihara, seeks to improve our understanding of how these venoms harm and kill as well as the best practices for treating cnidarian stings.
Dr. Wilcox talks more about her lionfish research for Slate & her blog
Learn more about her research by following her citations in Google Scholar
01/2015 - current: Interdisciplinary Research on Cnidarians
Postdoctoral Researcher for Dr. Angel Yanagihara, University of Hawaii
01/2011 - 12/2014: Molecular Investigations of the Pteroinae
Dissertation Research, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii
10/2009 - 12/2010: Population genetics and phylogeography of Pacific reef fishes.
Graduate Assistant for Dr. Brian Bowen, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology
02/2010 - 06/2010: Biochemistry of jellyfish venoms
Graduate Assistant for Dr. Angel Yanagihara, University of Hawaii
08/2009 - 10/2009 Conservation of native Hawaiian avifauna
Graduate Assistant for Dr. Rebecca Cann, University of Hawaii
10/2007 - 7/2009: Affects of A2B receptor stimulation on survival kinases in heart cells
Research Assistant for Dr. Stuart Critz, LECOM
05/2007 - 10/2007: Benthic faunal surveying of Hillsborough County
Temporary Scientist, Hillsborough County EPC
08/2006 - 11/2007: Affect of fiddler crab burrowing activity on mangrove growth
Undergraduate Research Project, Eckerd College
09/2005 - 12/2005: Marine mammal pathology
Intern, FMRI Marine Mammal Pathology Lab
06/2004 - 08/2004: Sea turtle nest monitoring in Sarasota County
Sea Turtle Program Intern, Mote Marine Laboratory