Marshall University, Cincinnati Museum Center
Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Being a research zoologist is a childhood dream come true. I've long been fascinated by the diversity of living things, especially animals, and have come to learn that we may explain life's diversity under a single, very powerful conceptual framework, evolution.
My graduate work at the University of Kentucky and later postdoctoral work at Auburn University was focused on avian mating systems and reproductive behavior. Throughout my career I've used molecular genetic tools in my work. DNA can tell us how two individuals are related in a population and thus help uncover the sometimes elusive mating decisions made by animals in the field or tell us how two species are related thereby addressing deeper questions on evolutionary diversification. Since my origins as a behavioral biologist my research has shifted to the study of population and species history using molecular genetic tools.
I've been especially interested in recent years in how evolution has shaped the biological diversity of Southeast and East Asia since my first research in this region in Taiwan nearly 17 years ago. Since then I've traveled to Taiwan, China and Japan several times exploring mountains and isolated islands in the region collecting genetic samples to unravel the mysteries of the region's birds. My colleagues and I have collected hundreds of DNA samples from birds in the region and used genetic data to publish phylogenetic work on the endemic Asian bird genus Liocichla, to solve puzzles of species diversity in the Light-vented and Taiwan Bulbuls and the Varied Tit, in collaborative work on the evolutionary history of Asian Tailorbirds, and in studies coupling genetic history with climate history in an endemic bird in Taiwan.
I also have a keen interest in broadly sharing my enthusiasm for biodiversity, evolution and scientific research in general, through informal museum education and programming and through the internet and social media via my web page, Twitter, and Flickr.