The Scientist

Wildlife biologist to be precise. I study wildlife diseases and landscape genetics to be completely esoteric. I find time to get away from home, but seldom away from the work of of my PhD.  Nothing says science geek like reading Wobeser on a beach in Belize!

I’m currently working on my PhD in wildlife ecology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  I combine ecology, population genetics, epidemiology, and spatial analysis to study how the spatial patterns of genetic connectivity in white-tailed deer can be related to the spread of chronic wasting disease across the Midwest landscape.

Between grad degrees I found a little time to make a little money working as a contract biologist on an owl project.  We were primarily counting burrowing owls – but, you know biologists, we’ll catch and band anything we can get our hands on.  That’s me with a baby great-horned owl – hiding in the pickup to avoid the swooping talons of the angry mother.

I got my MS in Environmental Sciences from the University of Idaho in Moscow.  My thesis research took me to the wilds of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula where I trapped bear hair to evaluate population abundance and landscape genetic structure of black bears.

I decided to go back to school after getting a taste for research at the National Wildlife Health Center.  I worked on a project studying vaccine baiting of skunks.  We captured skunks for controlled feeding trials; and, yes, that is me descenting a skunk with my teeth.

After college I spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana (west Africa).  I worked closely with local farmers and village leaders to conserve riparian habitat and avoid crop raiding by elephants moving along the Red Volta River corridor.

Life as a genetics geek started early as an undergrad at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.  I took on an independent study project trying to develop methods to genetically determine maternal breeding success in alligators.  (If only I knew then all the lab tricks I know now!)


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