Ava is a Ph.D. candidate in Duke University’s Program in Genetics and Genomics (UPGG) in Dr. Gregory Wray’s lab. Her research interests seek to answer evolutionary questions in the natural world by leveraging functional genomics methods to understand organismal adaptation and variation. To this end, her current work seeks to understand at a single-cell scale how epigenomic and structural factors affect population genetics of hybridizing species in the diverse clade of Heliconius butterflies, in collaboration with teams at George Washington University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. She is funded by a James B. Duke Fellowship and the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship, and is also a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Predoctoral Fellow for 2023-24.

Ava completed her undergraduate studies at Wellesley College, where she wrote an honors thesis in Dr. Andrea Sequeira’s lab on the transcriptomic responses and adaptation in an invasive, asexual beetle species. After leaving Wellesley, she moved to Pardis Sabeti’s lab at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT under the mentorship of Steve Reilly, working on human functional genomic characterization with the ENCODE Consortium. Ava then became the lab manager for the newly minted Reilly lab as it opened its doors at Yale in the fall of 2021. Her work under Steve focused on the functional characterization of positively selected human variants, especially those within genetic regulatory elements, as well as consciously building the framework for an inclusive lab environment as the Reilly lab’s first member.

At Duke, Ava is involved in science communication and outreach programs such as the Science Research and Education Network (SciREN),FEMMES (Females and Allies Excelling More in Math, Engineering, and Science), and Project SHORT. She is also a member of the Society of Duke Fellows. Outside of the lab, she enjoys horticulture, making coffee, watching standup comedy, learning to rollerblade, and hiking or backpacking.

Download my CV here.

  • Genomics of Ecological Adaptation
  • Epigenetic Evolution and Variation
  • Evolution of Regulatory Innovation
  • Accessibility & Equity in STEM
  • Ph.D. Student in Genetics and Genomics (UPGG), 2022

    Duke University

  • B.A. in Biological Sciences & Environmental Studies, 2020

    Wellesley College


(2024). Multi-center integrated analysis of non-coding CRISPR screens. Nature Methods 21, 3.


(2023). The functional and evolutionary impacts of human-specific deletions in conserved elements. Science 380, 6643.


(2021). Host-specific gene expression as a tool for introduction success in Naupactus parthenogenetic weevils. PLoS ONE 16(7): e0248202.


(2021). Direct characterization of cis-regulatory elements and functional dissection of complex genetic associations using HCR-FlowFISH. Nature Genetics 53, 1166-1176.