About me

A short biography of my life with a scientific emphasis…

I was born in Boston Massachusetts- the eldest son a family of seven. When I was born, my father was in the early stages of his career, and we bounced around for a couple of years, including six months in Hawaii. Unfortunately I was too young to remember any of it, but my mother insists that lizards ran all over me as I lay in my crib, perhaps originating my life long interest in herpetology.

Getting read to explore rural Vermont with my cousin.
Getting ready to explore rural Vermont with my cousin. That’s me on the left.

Eventually my parents and their growing brood settled in Vermont. My early years there were in the countryside on a hill across from a dairy farm. I caught a lot of salamanders, garter snakes, and toads in the fields and woods around my parent’s house. Honestly, it was the perfect place for a kid. After the third grade, we moved to what seemed to me a bustling metropolis: Burlington, Vermont. In Burlington, I compensated for my lack of access to Vermont’s woods and streams with a number of pets including California newts, firebelly toads, and even a jeweled swift (Sceloperus sp.). I was also a student of Judith Allard, a fantastic high school teacher who provided me with a solid foundation in Biology.

After high school I attended Union College in Schenectady, New York. At Union I majored in Biology. I also managed to work part time in Barbara Pytel’s lab where I studied freeze tolerance in grey tree frogs (Hyla versicolor). After college, and a sort stint working as a biochemist, I joined Tod Reeder’s lab at San Diego State University. I had a wonderful time in San Diego and in the deserts of the American southwest chasing whiptail lizards (Aspidoscelis sp.). I also took a class in bioinformatics with Scott Kelley that got me hooked on PYTHON (the programming language).

Catching a snake
Catching a snake in Arizona.

After completing a Masters studying the population genetics of parthenogenetic whiptails, I worked briefly as a lab technician for Travis Glenn at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. There, I QCed microsatellite loci and risked life and limb learning to catch alligators. It was a fantastic experience.

Next, I joined Christopher Schneider’s lab at Boston University to pursue a PhD. The primary thrust of my dissertation aimed at identifying genes and loci involved in the evolution of anolis lizards. Chris and I collaborated with Hopi Hoekstra and Jonathan Losos on this project, and I had a great time working with their students and post docs at Harvard. I also continued to collaborate with Travis and contributed to some papers describing a new approach for identifying and sequencing homologus loci (e.g., ultra conserved elements) across deep evolutionary time scales. For that project, Brant Faircloth and I wrote the post processing and tree building pipeline. I learned a lot from Brant and he helped me discover github and writing open source code. I also collaborated with Sean Mullen on a project investigating the genomics of adaptation in heliconious butterflies. While at Boston University, I also wooed and wed my wife Christine.

I graduated in 2013 and did a short six month post doc in computational genomics at the California Academy of Sciences. I’m worked with Brian Simison, Shannon Bennett, and Durrell Kapan on projects ranging from turtle evolution to Drosophila population genomics. This spring I started a new Post Doc in Sarah Tishkoff’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania. There I’ll be working on the genomics of demography and local adaptation in human populations in Africa.