What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a veterinarian, but quickly discovered I wouldn’t have the stomach to perform blood draws or surgery.
What drew you to your current field of study?
I have always been fascinated by diseases and the immune system. Disease ecology incorporates all aspects of what drives disease in animal populations – environmental factors, immune responses within host and host immunogenetics. Learning the various complexities of different disease systems will always fascinate me. I also have a strong passion for conservation, so being able to address emergent diseases to help conserve wildlife species is an added bonus.
What do you love about your work at PRI?
I am part of a great group of researchers and it has been so inspiring to see the research happening around me. Every member of the group has unique perspectives that have influenced how I address my own research questions. I also love being able to work in the natural history museum part-time. There is so much information waiting to be discovered in the specimens, and I enjoy georeferencing and confirming species identities. It’s nice to feel like I am contributing to such an important collection of herpetofauna.
How will your work impact future generations?
I hope that my research will help management agencies mitigate disease risks to conserve all the beautiful amphibian species in North America for future generations of herp enthusiasts to enjoy. In my spare time, I also take my pink corn snake, Mr. T, on outreach excursions. I let little kids hold Mr. T and get “hugs and kisses” from him – so hopefully they don’t grow up to be so scared of snakes. Usually, the parents keep their distance!