I grew up in the fog-shrouded redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains in California, where amphibians ranging from Pacific Giant Salamanders to Red Legged Frogs were a regular part of my daily childhood experience. my father and grandfather were avid outdoorsmen; I spent much of my youth in the woods. As I finished high school, I started spending my summers working for a herpetologist in the upper Amazon Basin, performing herpetological field surveys. Field work quickly expanded to far flung corners of the world including Madagascar, China, and Bolivia.
With a combined undergraduate degree in both Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz, I continued on to earn a Masters degree in Zoology from the University of Oklahoma, where I examined the ecology of Grotto Salamanders. I went on to earn a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Miami (Florida) involving amphibian conservation, ecology, biology and taxonomy. I have coauthored two books (Cave Life of Oklahoma and Arkansas and Cave Life of TAG - Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia) as well as authoring Life in the Dark – a celebration of the planet’s biodiversity that inhabits dark environments.
My research interests involve the ecology of animals living in challenging environments like subterranean ecosystems, forest canopies, or deep ocean environments. I regularly conduct surveys of caves for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, documenting imperiled and endangered species and monitoring their populations. With the Atlanta Botanical Garden, I helped to coordinate both local and international amphibian conservation efforts and to develop captive breeding methods for critically endangered species. I was hired by the San Antonio Zoo to develop a new Department of Conservation and Research for the institution. With an excess of 11 million dollars in grants across the first five years at the zoo, active projects now span the globe.