BA, University of Northern Colorado; MS, West Texas A&M University; PhD, East Carolina University
“Born and raised in Colorado, I was consumed with the outdoors and became captivated by the diversity and beauty of the living things around me. I wanted to know what these organisms were, why there were so many, how they got here, why they behaved certain ways… In my never-ending quest to answer these questions (and much to my parents’ dismay!), I would collect snakes, frogs, bugs, and other critters and bring them home so I could observe their behaviors and learn everything possible about them. But let’s be real, I also brought them home so I could scare my sister! I imagine that this is what most little boys do and perhaps I was supposed to “grow out of it”, but I never did!
“Spiders have fascinated me for as long as I can remember, and in fact, my first memory is of a spider eating a fly! I still cannot describe in words the excitement and wonderment I felt as I watched this intelligent and daring little arachnid stalk its much more agile prey, calculating every move, before pouncing and enveloping the insect in its venomous grasp! More than 35 years later, I feel the same sense of awe every time I see this happen! It shouldn’t be a surprise that I am now a biologist that studies the diversity, evolution, and conservation of – you guessed it – spiders!
“I teach courses in zoology, arthropod biology, evolution, and field biology where I try to instill in my students a sense of curiosity and appreciation for all living things. It is most gratifying to go into the field, be it for a quick hike along the Pearl River here in Jackson or a three-week trek into the deserts and mountains of Arizona, where I can share my interests and show my students that they too can build a career out of their childhood passions! If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life!”