Chappell, Callie Rodgers (2023) Coloring outside the lines: community assembly in the life sciences. PhD Dissertation, Biological Sciences, Stanford University.
My dissertation is focused on studying the assembly of both ecological and social communities in the life sciences. First, I aimed to reimagine the current scientific enterprise within its own terms. By publishing scientific papers that center scientific art (Ch. 1), intergenerational mentorship (Ch. 2), and celebration of diverse lived experiences within academic science (Ch. 3), I show that science can flourish from diverse, equitable, and interdisciplinary groups. The topic of this research focuses on the assembly of microbial communities in the nectar of Diplacus aurantiacus (Ch. 1). By applying population genetics, functional genomics, and experimental evolution to this wild microbiome, I identify mechanisms that connect genetic variation to communitylevel processes such as priority effects (Ch. 2) and show that population-level variation can alter molecular traits associated with community assembly (Ch. 3). Second, I question the academic structure itself as the central nexus for scientific discovery. By dissolving the duality between science and art (Ch. 4), creating new science spaces that center culture and lived experience (Ch. 5-6) and reimagining entire educational ecosystems outside of “traditional” scientific venues (Ch. 7), I propose new frameworks for how science can be conducted and perhaps, what we consider science to be. This work is centered in community-centered art/science programming in the Greater Bay Area of California. In total, I hope this dissertation highlights how the life sciences can flourish when we celebrate a diversity of perspectives and approaches. [link to publication]