Alix Matthews

Please see my personal website

I grew up in North Little Rock, Arkansas and have always been intrigued by how species coexist and how ecosystems function. I earned my B.Sc. in Environmental Sciences with a minor in Economics from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee in 2014. At Rhodes, my interests ranged from exploring the effects of natural disasters on the labor market to modeling population dynamics of birds in response to habitat alterations using GIS. I was involved in a project regarding the impact of haemosporidian parasites on avian hosts in Dr. Michael Collins’ lab, which initially sparked my interest in symbiotic interactions.

After graduating from Rhodes in 2014, I joined Dr. Than Boves’ lab at Arkansas State University as a Biological Sciences M.Sc. student in Jonesboro, Arkansas and explored the co-ecology and co-evolution of feather mites on migratory songbirds. I gained a significant amount of field and lab experience during this time (at A-State and the University of Michigan with Dr. Pavel Klimov) and developed my critical thinking, analytical, and writing skills.

I was then hired as a Research Laboratory Manager at the University of Texas-Tyler in the labs of Drs. Jon N. Seal and Katrin Kellner in 2017. There, I conducted a variety of projects with undergrad and grad students and also managed my own projects - focusing on attine ants and their fungal gardens (and a little freshwater mussel work). I found many parallels with my previous work and realized my passion for symbiotic relationships in general.

Now, I’m back at Arkansas State in the Boves and Wijeratne labs studying feather mites. I am expanding my Master’s project to understand more about their biodiversity, population genetics, host specificity, and the impact of mites on avian hosts. I’m also a participant in the SUPERB scholarship program and I am a P.E.O. Scholar.

My background ranges widely - from the molecular to ecosystem levels - and I have found that knowing “a little bit about a lot” can be valuable for understanding, appreciating, and expanding science as a whole.