Biography

I am a southern Illinois native, born and raised in Union County (no, it’s not anywhere near Chicago). The baby of the family, I grew up loving sports, hunting, fishing, music, and anything to do with the outdoors. I played baseball and basketball throughout high school before moving on to study ecology.

I received my BSc (Fisheries/Aquatic Biology) and MSc (Biology) from Murray State University, working in the Aquatic Ecology Lab with Dr. Michael Flinn. While at Murray State, I also worked for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources as a fisheries technician, under the Critical Species Investigation unit. this work primarily focused on monitoring commercial harvest of the American Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) and invasive Asian carps (primarily Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and H. nobilis), as well as working to develop additional market plans for the commerical sale of Asian carps within the food industry.

After completing my MSc at Murray State, I served as a long-term substitute teacher for several months before being offered a Ph.D position at Mississippi State University. My current research is investigating an atypical strain of the bacterium Aeromonas hydrophila that was first identified in the United States in 2009. Since 2009, the bacterium has had a profound effect on the catfish aquaculture industry, causing widespread fish kills and causing nearly $100 million dollars in monetary losses. Thus far, the attempts to predict and avoid outbreaks have been unsuccessful, so I am working from another angle in an effort to better predict outbreaks in ponds and give farm-owners a chance to be proactive and alleviate the problem before it occurs.

My research interests focus broadly on aquatic ecology. I have always been drawn to the water, often told that I “should have been born a fish” (coming from my own mother). Though most of my professional research focuses on fish, I regularly explore other aspects of the aquatic realm on my own time. I enjoy exploring creeks and rivers, sampling invertebrates of different habitats, and nature photography.

I also have a deep love of teaching. My teaching experiences have spanned several traditions, from substitute teaching, graduate (and undergraduate) teaching assistantships, high school sports coaching, and independent tutoring. I enjoy teaching in both the classroom and field settings. I aim to provide students with all of the knowledge and skills they will need in their future career, whether that be research/academia, teaching, agency work, or the private sector.