How did I get here? Or ďIím a native Texas, but I came back
I was born in Corpus Christi, TX and after a couple of moves we ended up in Rosenberg where I attended grade school. I was interested in biology from an early age; I watched Marlin Perkins and Jacque Cousteau and I spent a lot of time outdoors on family camping and fishing trips. Even though I grew up near Houston during the Apollo years, I always thought that it would be much cooler to be a biologist than an astronaut.
When I was in the sixth grade my family moved to Australia for four years. This was an amazing life change for a kid who thought that the annual trip to the grandparentsí house in Oklahoma was a big deal. I had the incomparable experience of living in another country and experiencing a whole new way of life. Probably the biggest difference between Australia and the U.S. was the schools. I went to an all-boys English-style private school where we had to wear uniforms (suits and ties) and straw boater hats to class everyday (this probably explains my preferred style of dress today).
The move also provided me with the opportunity to travel the world. During trips through Europe and Asia we saw many places of historical and cultural interest. Among my favorites were the Coliseum in Rome, the Tower of London, and Mt. Fuji in Japan. More importantly, my travels exposed me to many new biological experiences including seeing hippos, gazelles, elephants, and a cheetah in South Africa, snorkeling and beachcombing in Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, and the Great Barrier Reef, chasing emus through the Australian outback, watching a male lyrebird do his dance, watching fairy penguins come ashore for the night off of the coast of southern Australia, and many sightings of other Australian wildlife including kangaroos and koalas (how many people do you know that have ever seen a koala running along the ground?).
During the summer before my sophomore year in high school we moved to Thousand Oaks, CA (old-timers will remember TO as the former summer home of the Dallas Cowboys before they were ruined by Jerry Jones) where I graduated from high school. During my senior year I spent a week studying ecology and philosophy in Yosemite and this trip confirmed by desire to be a biologist.
I enrolled at the University of California, Santa Barbara to study biology. UCSB is an incredible place to go to school (I could see the ocean from my bedroom window three out of the four years that I was there) and it also happened to have one of the best ecology programs in the world. Joe Connell (one of the most influential ecologist of our era) taught the ecology section of my intro biology course and also taught my first ecology course, so it is probably his fault that I am here today because after finishing his course I knew that I wanted to be an ecologist. Later, after taking courses from Steve Rothstein and Bob Warner, I became interested in behavioral and evolutionary ecology and I decided to go to grad school to study behavioral ecology. My time in TO and UCSB brought out the Californian in me, and in many ways I still consider California to be home today (even though my parents have moved to Austin so I really have no home in CA).
I went to Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS which as you might imagine was a pretty big change from UCSB. I enjoyed K-State (I learned to bleed purple for Wildcat basketball) and I was lucky to be able to spend summers working for my advisor Chris Smith at the Mountain Research Station in Colorado. My Masters Thesis extended optimal foraging models to examine woodrats foraging for non-food items (sticks that they use to build their houses). I still think that woodrats are among the neatest critters on the planet. I also did a theoretical study examining how food stress should affect sex ratios.
I decided to pursue a Ph. D. at the University in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake is a pretty city in a beautiful location, but the dominant culture in the region made it a different place to live. For my Ph. D. thesis with Jon Seger I developed models and conducted experiments to understand the causes of seed size variation in plants. During my little free time, I played volleyball with the U of U Volleyball Club team and I was probably the only person in the whole city who did not ski (I still donít see the point of intentionally getting cold).
I spent two years working as a post-doctoral researcher with Dave Tilman at the University of Minnesota. Our research focused on succession in old fields at Cedar Creek Natural History Area just north of Minneapolis.
I began at Tech in 1991 and the rest is history.
Although Lubbock isnít the most exciting town in the world, there is enough going on to keep me busy. I remain a pretty big fan of pro (Cowboys, Lakers, and Dodgers) and college sports. I follow most Tech sports (especially baseball, volleyball, and football) so you can often catch me at a game. I have been the faculty advisor for the Tech Womenís Volleyball Club since its inception. I am also a big music fan. My favorite local bands are D.G. Flewellyn, John Sprott, and Plain Brown Wrapper.
Six years ago I discovered the joys of scuba diving, and since then I have been hooked. I am now a certified scuba instructor (Master Scuba Diver Trainer). I teach some scuba classes at the Best Little Dive Shop in Texas and I have enjoyed teaching others how to dive. I try to go on at least one local dive trip a month (usually to Balmorhea State Park but occasionally Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, NM) to keep me busy until I can get away on a big trip. I have been on diving trips to Jamaica, the Sea of Cortez, Turks & Caicos Islands, San Salvador in the Bahamas (20 hammerhead sharks!!), Grand Cayman (check out the locally owned Cayman Diving Lodge- voted best dive operation in the Caribbean last year), Honduras, Cozumel, Yap, Palau, and the Solomon Islands. For the past three summers I have taught marine biology and scuba on a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands .
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