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While I enjoy thinking broadly across biological disciplines, my research is centered on bird-parasite interactions and focused on exploring their coevolution, ecology, and behavior.  I use field and lab experiments to determine host and parasite adaptations that have evolved from their antagonistic relationship.  I also aim to determine how ecological interactions between hosts and parasites drives their longer-term coevolution.

Degree Program University
Ph.D. Biology University of Utah
B.A. Biology Carleton College

My Siena Experience

My Teaching Philosophy

My teaching is broadly focused on producing students with a sophisticated understanding of biological concepts and a skill set to critically test and evaluate complex information.  Biology provides a natural framework for classroom and laboratory engagement.  Students not only learn how the natural world is structured, but also participate through research that helps them better understand their environment.   In lectures, I present terms, techniques and concepts to familiarize students with the material.  Then we build on this base knowledge by reviewing primary research on the topics and working through group problems and discussions.

What I Love About Siena

I really enjoy the opportunity to teach biology in a small-classroom environment -- especially when teaching labs. Getting students to directly test the validity of a concept through experimentation is not only a fun process, but it also greatly helps students connect abstract theories and concepts to real-world situations.

My Favorite Courses to Teach

I greatly enjoy teaching Ornithology (the study of birds) both in the field and classroom as well as Principles of Evolution (Biol 270 & 265 respectively).   Ornithology allows students to make deep connections between biological disiplines through the detailed exploration of one group of animals.  Evolution provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the basic framework that underlies much of biology.  Additionally, I am always excited to teach the General Biology courses (Biol 110 & 120) and Writing and Research Skills for Biologists (Biol 190).   These introductory courses really help students grow as biologists and enable a broad exploration of the many exciting fields of biology.

My Professional Experience

Year Title Organization
2014 - Now Associate Professor Siena College
2008 - 2014 Assistant Professor Siena College
2007 - 2008 Visitng Assistant Professor Carleton College
2005 - 2007 Teaching Fellow University of Utah
2001 - 2001 Field Technician University of Nevada, Reno
2001 - 2004 Teaching Assistant University of Utah
2000 - 2000 Field Technician University of Maine, Orono
2000 - 2001 Science School Educator Gore Range Nat
1999 - 2000 Environmental Science Educator Stone Environmental School
1999 - 2000 Field Technician Yellowstone National Park

Current Research

While I like to think broadly about biology, my research interests are centered in the fields of ecology and evolution.  I am particularly interested in exploring links between ecological interactions and longer-term coevolutionary dynamics.  In essence, I aim to understand how interacting species exert natural selection on one another and determine the adaptations that have resulted from this intimate process.  Host-parasite systems are particularly rich in this regard, and I have focused my research on the coevolution of birds and their parasite communities.  

Articles & Book Reviews

  • Evidence for idiothetic and allothetic control of thermo-orientation in feather-feeding lice
    Journal of Insect Physiology
  • Rapid collapse of a population of Dieffenbachia spp., plants used for tadpole-rearing by a poison-dart frog (Oophaga pumilio) in a Costa Rican rain forest
    Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • Thermo-orientation and the movement of feather-feeding lice on hosts
    Journal of Parasitology
  • Community interactions govern host-switching with implications for host-parasite coevolutionary history
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, vol. 108
  • How birds combat ectoparasites
    Open Ornithology Journal. Supplement: Current Trends in Avian Parasitology, vol. 3
  • A hitchhiker's guide to parasite transmission: The phoretic behavior of feather lice
    International Journal for Parasitology, vol. 39
  • Geographic variation in the community structure of lice on Western Scrub-jays
    Journal of Parasitology, vol. 95
  • Comparative transmission dynamics of competing parasite species
    Ecology, vol. 89
  • Isolation, pure culture and characterization of Candidatus Arsenophonus arthropodicus, an intracellular secondary endosymbiont from the hippoboscid louse-fly
    Applied and Environmental Microbiology, vol. 72

Awards & Distinctions

  • Siena Summer Scholars Fellowship
    Category: Research
    Siena College, 2014
  • COTFD Faculty Pedagogy Grant
    Category: Teaching
    Siena College, 2013
  • Siena Summer Scholars Fellowship
    Category: Research
    Siena College, 2012