Valdosta State University
Who I am and what I do
I am a professor of biology at Valdosta State. I spend about half of
my time teaching biology to undergraduate students. The rest of my time
I spend exploring various aspects of the ecology of photosynthetic microorganisms.
This includes a mixture of fieldwork in deserts, regional wetlands,
and waste-water treatment systems, laboratory experiments, and computer
Areas of expertise
My chief area of expertise is in microbial ecology, with some training
in algal taxonomy and physiology and in mathematical modeling.
How I first became interested in this profession
I was lucky enough to grow up within few minutes walk of a rocky beach
in southern California and got to spent many hours exploring the tidepools,
examining the diversity of life there.
What helped me prepare for this job
I have a fairly broad training, with degrees in mathematics and biology,
which allows me to explore a variety of fields, including some in which
I am not a specialist at all.
My Education and Training
I have a BA and an MA in Mathematics from the University of California,
San Diego, and a PhD in Biology from Florida State University, Tallahassee.
Between the two I did some graduate work in biology at San Diego State
My Career Path
My career began to take shape when I applied for and was accepted into
a PhD program working with Dr. Imre Friedmann at Florida State. I had
read about his work previously and was excited by the prospects of working
in Antarctica on a project related to the exploration of space. With
help from Chris McKay, we developed some early models of the environment
experienced by cryptoendolithic microorganisms in desert ecosystems.
Fortunately, I have been able to continue to my collaborations with
both Chris and Imre them while working first at Waycross College and
now at Valdosta State University, both primarily teaching colleges.
What I like best about my job
Because I am at a teaching college, there is not as much pressure to
maintain a constant record of grant support. This gives me the freedom
to explore areas of interest to me. Plus, I get to spend a fair bit
of time out of the office and in the field.
What I don't like about my job
Evaluating students and assigning grades at the end of each semester.
My advice to anyone interested in this occupation
Do not choose a career strictly for financial reward--you are going
to spend many hours and many years working at it. Find something you
really like to do and pursue it, but remain flexible and open to new