I am currently a 26 year old PhD student at the University of Texas at Arlington in the lab of Dr. Matthew Walsh. My main focus is on understanding how organisms strike a balance between the form they have, the function it serves, and the fitness it gives the organism. This is especially interesting when a species is spread across a gradient. Before I started at UTA in 2014, I had just finished my MS at Texas Tech. That project was based on springsnail reproduction and their diet in spring heads of west Texas. I'll probably write about how my time at Texas Tech affected my way of thinking about being a graduate student, and the importance of becoming independent early in the program. My undergraduate degree was in Wildlife Biology from Missouri State University. I got to know a lot of the professors and they really had a huge impact on my life. They helped me understand what life in research looked like. I can honestly say that my time at MSU, the courses I took and experiences I had, gave me knowledge and skills that I am still using to this day.
For a brief time I worked in the "real world"! Gasp! After graduating from MSU, I worked as an aquarist for Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, MO. I worked with a team of 5 to care for the seven exhibits. They have a 50,000 four story waterfall exhibit, a 10-foot alligator, 3 alligator gar over 6-feet long, snakes, birds, a 30,000 saltwater tank, and a 120 lb alligator snapping turtle. Needless to say, it was a blast! Getting to dive these tanks to clean, feed, and observe the fish taught me the importance of paying attention to the details. We also did daily fish feeding shows and presentations for the public. This form of educational outreach was quite a learning experience. It's a unique way to reach an audience that normally doesn't seek out science education. Additionally, caring for a collection of animals worth over $100,000 in the middle of a massive retail store posed unique challenges.
After all of that, why am I now starting to write my thoughts? Honestly, it's more selfish than anything. I'm writing to start keeping myself accountable for my progress and work on my writing skills. I'll write about technology I use for research, writing, and teaching. I'll also write about my progress and my thoughts on "learning to do science" as a PhD student. I'll also post thoughts and musing on current papers and books I'm reading.
Thanks for taking time to read this! If you have any comments about being in a PhD program or feedback, let me know!