I’m currently a research associate at the Natural Resources Research Institute focusing on waterbirds and wetlands in the Great Plains. My dissertation focused on grassland bird response to weather, and I aim to continue an academic career of avian research.
Bio-sketch: I was born and raised in the upland section of the “Piedmont plateau province” of Maryland. I was lucky to have a big backyard to play in as a kid, complete with a stream and a pond. We always had bird feeders, too, and my dad would take me on walks to see the brightly-colored birds that would stop in our small stretch of woods. My parents have had a beach house in Ocean City for as long as I can remember, so I’ve been vacationing on the East Coast and playing on the beach since childhood. I’ve always loved the outdoors, and dreamed of a career working with nature since I was young. Growing up in central MD, the Chesapeake Bay was often the subject of science education in elementary school and beyond, and we made field trips to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. (Once, we even visited a water treatment plant there!) Looking back, it was really special to have been able to learn about submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and help with local water quality restoration. By 3rd grade, my career aspiration was to be a marine biologist, though birds were still a favorite at the time, too! When I was in middle school, I stayed at a fantastic camp that took us all through the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and it became one of my favorite youthful memories. I got the “bird award” at the end for my love of the coastal avi-fauna throughout the trip.
I went on to college at Virginia Tech and majored in Biological Sciences.
At the end of my senior year, I was a field technician for a project that I ended up adopting for my MS at Clemson. I started with another field tech that was volunteering, and he ended up becoming my tech for the remainder of the project after I took it over. The field work involved searching for and monitoring painted bunting nests, and conducting avian point counts on golf courses in coastal Beaufort Co., SC. My thesis focused on breeding bird communities of golf courses in the sea island complex of Beaufort Co, SC.
Thus, from my time and travels on the east coast, I’ve spent many a day trekking the Blue Ridge, from MD to SC (though not continuously!). I started my Ph.D. at University of Wisconsin-Madison in January 2012, and completed my qualifying exam May 2013. I completed my preliminary exam December 2013, and defended my dissertation July 12, 2016. I’ve been lucky to have ventured around adjacent states since I’ve been here, in search of birds.
I’ve vacationed in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, the Cayman islands, St Thomas, St John, Florida, Costa Rica, Niagara Falls, California and Yellowstone. I visited Nebraska for a conference, and got to bird all over while there. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have lived in and seen so many unique ecosystems, and I look forward to exploring many more.
For this blog, I envision…
- a portal to my research
- a melding of said research with my naturalist tendencies (which informs my work as a wildlife ecologist)
- a collection of my work and play in one place
- a travel log, whereby perhaps others can stumble upon the (sometimes obscure) places I visit, share experiences, or gain some sort of information
- a collection of resources…though, I’m not sure I have the time right now to make it really what I want to be!
As always, it’s a work in progress!