I grew up moving around the U.S., living in Ohio, Illinois, Washington, and New Hampshire. I was fortunate to grow up in a family that hiked, camped, and boated our way around each of these unique places. I found my love of nature while exploring these varied habitats and landscapes.
As an 18-year-old I got an internship for The Wilds, the largest conservation facility in North America, working on an osprey reintroduction project. I knew I had picked the right path. I went on to do my B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences. After my undergraduate program, I was fortunate to get a position with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, where I worked in wildlife policy research and reform. Assisting with the creation of policies that transformed wildlife conservation was an exciting and humbling experience for me as a young biologist. I realized working with natural resource managers, policy makers, and citizens was critical for sustainable conservation change. I went on to complete a M.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at North Carolina State University focused in human dimensions of wildlife conservation, advised by Dr. Nils Peterson.
After my first round of grad school I headed south to Mobile, Alabama. I started out working as a Partnership Coordinator for a local non-profit, where I managed our collaborative initiatives with local businesses, government agencies, and other NGOs. I then moved on to become a Research Analyst for a private consulting firm on the Natural Resource Damage Assessment of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Working on the BP Oil Spill was an eye-opening experience that taught me just how intertwined our quality of life, economy, and public health are with the health of our environment.
After my time on the Gulf Coast I headed east to central Florida, where I earned a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Ecology at University of Florida, advised by Dr. Mark Hostetler and Dr. Steve Johnson. For my dissertation research I studied the ecology and impacts of introduced non-human primate populations in Florida, which was a personal dream for many years beforehand. I then worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at University of Florida, advised by Dr. Christina Romagosa, studying rhesus macaque abundance in a recently-invaded habitat and using climate envelope modeling to evaluate the invasion potential of introduced mammals in Florida. I am now an Assistant Professor of Research at Texas A&M University – Kingsville, where I am over-seeing a project funded by the Texas Department of Transportation to provide guidance on management and mitigation measures to protect the endangered ocelot. I am one of those people who is lucky enough to say, “I love what I do.”