I was lucky enough to grow up in Northwest Georgia near the headwaters of the Coosa River. From about the age of 4, I have been fixedly captivated by turtles and tortoises. Throughout grade school, I was the "turtle boy," and I found out in high school that there was actually a career path for a kid like me with turtles on the brain. I attended the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia, during which time I gained experience working with reptiles and amphibians through internships and undergraduate research opportunities.
I graduated from UGA hoping to follow a Fulbright to conduct research on turtles in Western Australia. Though I was a finalist for the scholarship, the opportunity did not pan out, and instead I took a position working with the Asian Turtle Program in Vietnam. Vietnam, and Southeast Asia in general, are ground zero for turtle conservation, with many of their species teetering on the brink of extinction. It was a sobering and transformative experience that drove home the plight of turtles globally. I decided to return stateside to pursue a Master's at the University of Southern Mississippi. During my tenure, I secured a Graduate Research Fellowship through the National Science Foundation for my work on the ecology and evolutionary history of lotic musk turtles (Sternotherus peltifer and S. carinatus). Upon receipt of this fellowship, I decided to use the funding allotted to instead pursue a Ph.D. at USM.
Myself and a critically endangered Vietnamese pond turtle. Quang Ngai Province. 2013.
A Southwestern snake-necked turtle from just outside Perth, Australia. 2013.
I defended my dissertation the day before COVID-19 shut down the universities across the world, and I was fortunate enough to secure a job teaching locally at a community college (Pearl River Community College) for a year before I found and applied for my current position at Jacksonville State University.
Outside of academia, I enjoy "turtling" on my own. I like to catalog many of my finds on iNaturalist (see here for my account). Additionally, I am an avid runner. During my Ph.D. I completed 6 marathons, including qualifying for the Boston Marathon 3 times and running it twice. I also enjoy trivia, even though I am notoriously the worst on the team (I know nothing about pop culture or sports), but I enjoy spending time with friends and family.
I am super excited to be at JSU. I think it offers incredible opportunities for those interested in herpetology and conservation biology. If I can ever be of any help, please contact me anytime.
An alligator snapping turtle from the Pascagoula River in South Mississippi. 2019.