I am in the 4th year of my PhD program in the field of Genetics, Genomics, and Development at Cornell University. I've always loved biology and science in general, but at the beginning of my Master's degree discovered a love for developmental biology. Nestled within this scientific pursuit is a desire to share the wonders of biology with others through teaching/education. These two components, teaching and research, are discussed in some detail by following the links above. However, behind it all, I'm just a pretty normal guy with a wide variety of interests. I grew up in Iowa, which makes me a proud, non-accented Midwesterner. However, I also spent a good part of my highschool and college years in Pensacola, FL (better known as Lower Alabama), so there is a touch of the South in me as well. Listed below are some quick snippets about who I am, not as a educator or a scientist, but as a person.
I married my beautiful wife, Erin, in May of 2010. Erin and I are both from large families (7 siblings apiece!), so life is never dull. We have three children with our most recent addition being a little girl in 2014. We currently live in beautiful Ithaca, NY, home of Cornell University.
Figure 1 - Our family of five (October 2014)...with basically no one looking :)
I earned a Bachelor's degree in Biology Education from Pensacola Christian College with minors in art and music. While the education focus strengthened my resolve to teach one day, I also realized that no amount of education courses could give me the expertise and experience in my field that only a PhD can afford. To this end, I earned a Master’s degree in biology at the University of West Florida under the mentorship of Dr. Hui-Min Chung. Upon completion of my Master's degree, I was admitted into the PhD program in Genetics, Genomics, and Development at Cornell University (Fall 2012), where I joined the lab of Dr. Maria Garcia-Garcia.
So everybody needs a release...something that doesn't have a living attached to it, something to retreat to for personal enjoyment not professional gain. I believe the moment a person ceases to be young is the moment that person ceases to learn (or at least attempt to learn) new things. The further these are separated from one's current knowledge base, the younger he will remain...just a hypothesis. Furthermore, one can never predict how the pursuit of an unrelated hobby may contribute intellectually to his profession. In my opinion, a hobby must meet these two criteria:
- It must be a mental or physical activity which, although potentially initiated by a requirement, one chooses to continue to pursue without being required (though, not always for the fun of it).
- One's livelihood must not be dependent upon the activity (although, ideally hobbies will pay for themselves!).
Some of my favorite things to do when there's time to kill are:
Music, specifically piano, was a major part of my past life. I completed a piano minor in college which marked the end of any formal lessons. Now it is truly a hobby and nothing more.
Fine art (painting and drawing) became a lifetime pursuit after minoring in Art during undergrad. My favorite media are oil, acrylic, graphite, and “white charcoal.” I enjoy representative art and find most abstract/expressionism art to be quite an oxymoron. When I get around to it, portraits are my favorite pursuit.
Do-it-yourself and fix-it-yourself projects are another favorite hobby, especially if it means getting some new tools from Harbor Freight. My favorite handy-dandy tool kits are ones from Husky (on the right) and a Ryobi cordless kit. These two guys can tackle most any problem.
Web and graphic design has been one of the most useful hobbies I’ve come across. I was first exposed to graphic design during my undergrad and started tinkering with web design when I decided to build this website. I love Adobe products, but ironically, don’t own any of them (I still use the old Macromedia MX programs).
My faith is a fundamental part of who I am. This is not to be confused with the nauseating TV evangelists who put on an elaborate show to pad their pockets, or the term “religious” which implies a ritualistic, mindless adherence to a set of standards. Simply put, I am a born-again, Bible believer who actually strives to live based on my beliefs. In Florida our family attended Clear Springs Baptist Church where my father is the pastor and I served as music leader and jail ministry leader. Since moving to New York we have joined Bible Baptist Fellowship where I continue to serve as music leader.