Where are you from?
I am originally from Connecticut (a yankee!). I did my undergraduate work at Syracuse University in Biology. Then moved to the University of Louisville for my PhD, followed by a 4-year stint at the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience in Atlanta as a postdoctoral fellow. I took my first faculty position at California State University Fresno in 2006, and decided to move to the University of Alabama in 2008.
What brought you to UA?
I came to UA because the university seemed to value teaching, research, and mentoring undergraduates in a research capacity in the lab. It was also much closer to my field sites, and my family, than California…so that was a plus!
What do you teach?
I teach Animal Behavior (BSC 448) and Endocrinology (BSC 449) - both in the Department of Biological Sciences.
How long have you been involved with ESP?
I have been involved in ESP since its inception, many years ago (perhaps 7 or 8 years?).
What do you think is the greatest value of ESP?
By far, the greatest value of ESP is the fact that the program exposes students to a diverse array of research happening on campus, and strives to get the students involved in a hands-on capacity with the research (and with mentors who are psyched to train students!)
What is your area of interest in research? Have you completed any cool studies that might interest students?
We are an “integrative biology” lab, which means that we do all sorts of things. Our research interests range from understanding protein expression patterns in the brains of animals that have won or lost fights…..to…..understanding the evolution of weird mating systems. Two cool studies come to mind. The first showed that when our fish are challenged with stressful environments, they change sex from hermaphrodite to male; and when they don’t change sex, they die! So, males are essentially a life insurance policy. The second showed that the behavior and patterns of protein expression in the brains of animals that experience social defeat are eerily similar to what we see in terms of behavior and brain function in people on the autism spectrum; we are currently investigating whether our animal can be used as a model for understanding the neurobiology of autism.