I am a doctoral candidate and a writer.
My thesis work focuses on the interactions between lizards and their environment, whether physical or social, and how this leads to the amazing morphological, physiological, and ecological diversity we see in modern species. See my Research page for details.
I have broad interests as a writer. I have worked as a science writer and a freelance journalist. Topics have ranged from news and health to parasitism and astronautics. Check out my Writing page for selected articles.
FEB. 2018 - Who doesn't love spiders? They're awful crafty!
JAN. 2018 - I was once again a guest contributor for the Journal of Experimental Biology, this time for Inside JEB (whoohoo!). It was a thrill to get to interview some of the scientists that publish in JEB and highlight their work. One of my favorite experiences was interviewing Philipp Lehmann, at the Stockholm University in Sweden, about what happens inside butterfly pupae when they overwinter. He told me that butterfly pupae, which are just casings filled with "goo," can be deceptively active. Some of these gooey sacks, however, are more active than others. Read the full story to find out more. Go to my Writing page for additional contributions.
JAN. 2017 - Flotation therapy has benefits, but not all purported claims are backed by science.
OCT. 2016 - I'm back at NEPR as a freelance journalist and digital media intern. NEPR's College Connection provides access to visiting and resident speaker lectures given at The Five Colleges. The lectures range from poetry, jazz, history, and life science, to the prison industrial complex and modern American conservatism (among many other topics). They're worth a listen!
Note: More College Connection recordings can be found here.
AUGUST 2016 - I just completed a AAAS Mass Media Fellowship at The Philadelphia Inquirer, sponsored by the American Physiological Society. I published pieces in Science & Health, Business, Entertainment, Food, and contributed to one in News (see my Writing page).
Check out the stellar writing by my fellow Fellows!
MARCH 2016 - I have been extremely fortunate to work as a reporter intern at New England Public Radio (an NPR affiliate). My latest feature, Worcester’s Big Solar Dreams Could Evict Threatened Sparrows, just aired in Boston on WBUR. For other pieces I've written for NEPR, check out my Science Writing Page!
JAN. 2016 - I am THRILLED to be teaching my scicomm course again this spring! Questions? Comments? Please contact me!
JAN. 2016 - I was unable to attend this year's Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology annual meeting, but I was delighted to write a press release, Snakes show that eating can be bad for your health, for one of the stellar presentations by Dr. Zach Stahlschmidt and his collaborators. My article has since been re-published in Phys.org and ScienceDaily, and altered versions of my article can be found in other media outlets .
DEC. 2015 - How do lab studies differ from field studies? Why is this important for understanding the way an animal moves in its environment? Find out in For hummingbirds, nature is not a wind tunnel, in Outside JEB for The Journal of Experimental Biology.
SEPT. 2015 - No, it's not related to my dissertation research, but it's still pretty cool: Our latest article in PLoS ONE, Geckos as Springs: Mechanics Explain Across-Species Scaling of Adhesion, was just published. In it we demonstrate that as geckos get larger their adhesive systems get stiffer, which helps larger geckos stick as well as smaller ones do. For a nice summary, here is the EurekAlert version, and also a BBC Earth interview with Duncan!
JUNE 2015 - Boxfish: a poor model organism to use as inspiration for high-performance vehicles (oops - sorry, Mercedes-Benz!). Read about the research that shows what type of maneuvering boxfish are good at, and why, in my Outside JEB article, Boxfish don't swim the straight and narrow, in this month's issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology.
MAY. 2015 - ?: I have been working as a reporter inter for New England Public Radio (an NPR member station). It has been the most fulfilling, exhilarating, and challenging experience of my graduate career. I am currently working on a feature with them, and my shorter pieces can be found on my Science Writing page.
MARCH 2015 - What makes a northern elephant seal a 'floater' or 'sinker'? Read my latest story for Outside JEB, Fat seals forage most efficiently, in The Journal of Experimental Biology and find out!
JAN-FEB. 2015 - I participated in Carl Zimmer's Science Writing Workshop. Carl gave us a crash course in the essentials of good science writing in a way that only a seasoned, prolific writer could. He also gave me critical feedback on a story that I wrote for the workshop that will forever influence the way I write and think about writing. I would take this workshop again, anytime, given the opportunity.
FEB. 2015 - The story I wrote for ComSciCon 2014 Communicating Science workshop for graduate students has been published in the February 2015 issue of Natural History Magazine. My story features the fascinating research of fellow UMass Amherst doctoral candidate Scott Schneider! And... ComSciCon 2015 applications are still being accepted (until March 1). It was an amazing experience. Don't miss out!
DEC. 2014 - Zooplankton swim softly to stymie predators, my latest report for The Journal of Experimental Biology, details how Thomas Kiørboe, of the Centre for Ocean Life at the Technical University of Denmark, and his collaborators studied zooplankton of different sizes, shapes, and foraging modes to understand when and how these tiny creatures move through water in ways that minimize fluid signals to predators; to eat, but not be eaten.
You should also check out the original article by Kiørboe et al. (2014) in PNAS... if for no other reason than the amazing images and supplemental videos. These zooplankton are darn cute!
NOV. 2014 - THIS JUST IN...
NOV. 2014 - Because I am so EXTREMELY excited about science communication, I'll be teaching a class on it for life science graduate students in the spring (ORG&EVBI 697K - 01 ST-Science Communication)!
The course is intended to give graduate students experience translating hard science into formats that will engage and inform the general public. In the course we will write popular science articles, explore outreach opportunities in the community, discover why science communication is important for a successful academic career, and learn about career opportunities in science communication outside academia. Contact me if you'd like more information!
SEPT. 2014 - My latest article for Outside JEB is in the Sept. 1 issue...
What does exercise influence in these fish? I'll give you a hint - it gives them a 'boost of boldness'!
JUNE 2014 - I attended the ComSciCon 2014 Communicating Science workshop for graduate students in Cambridge, Mass. For my OEB News brief, click (or see) below.
JUNE 2014 - My latest contribution to Outside JEB, Head-bobs in birds: the eyes have it, is in the June 2014 217 (11) issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology.
MAY 2014 - The article I wrote as a student journalist intern at the SICB meeting in Austin, TX in January, Sexy single female fruit fly in search of experienced male, is now online, and has been featured in the Texas A&M University's monthly science enews site (discover-e), as well as in their campus-wide newsletter, TAMUtimes, and their Division of Research!
APRIL 2014 - It's field season y'all! Follow my adventures in the deep South as I collect data for what may be the last field season of my PhD career on my field blog, Adventures Down South!
APRIL 2014 - The paper detailing an exciting collaboration I was recently a part of, Creating Gecko-like Adhesives for "Real World" Surfaces, is now available online at the Advanced Materials website! And don't forget to check out the hilarious (and informative) video, where Dan and Mike demonstrate the awesome power of Geckskin!
APRIL 2014 - My work examining how perch flexibility affects the way green anoles navigate their habitat has been featured in Functional Ecology's Virtual Issue: Locomotion unplugged: how movement in animals is influenced by the environment.
JAN. 2014 - I presented some of my thesis work as a poster titled, Preliminary analysis of hemiclitoris development in the lizard Anolis distichus at the SICB Annual Meeting 2014 in Austin, TX.
Organismic & Evolutionary Biology
205 Morrill Science Center III
Amherst, MA 01003