I have been involved in the science of mammalogy since my senior year at the University of Northern Iowa working in the laboratory of Dr. Jim Demastes. Though I did not realize that I wanted to pursue mammalogy as a career, Dr. Demastes helped develop my interests in the science. I first began to see my future in mammalogy take shape while pursuing my Master’s degree at Fort Hays State University. During this time, I served as the curatorial assistant for the mammal collections at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, working under the direction of Dr. Elmer Finck and the late Dr. Jerry Choate. Ultimately, I decided to attend Texas Tech University for my Doctoral degree where I worked with Dr. Robert Bradley and had the privilege to work in the mammal collections at the Natural Science Research Laboratory of the Museum of Texas Tech University. Because of these experiences, mammalogy has developed into a lifelong passion.
I joined the Mammal Division at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (UMMZ) in June 2013. The UMMZ is administered by the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB). I serve as the UMMZ Mammal Collections Manager and maintain a research appointment in EEB. With this two roles, I am fully involved in all aspects of the UMMZ Mammal Division, and I enjoy the challenge of integrating my experience working in museum collections with my own research program to continue to grow the Mammal Division.
My approach to research is due to my beginnings in wildlife ecology. I have been able to apply many of these principles learned in the classroom while being employed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, where I worked directly in wildlife management roles. As such, I have approached my research from the perspective of a field biologist. I have done extensive fieldwork on mammals in the states of Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, as well as internationally in Mexico. I have complemented my passion for fieldwork with a strong molecular component. As a result, my research has centered on the patterns and processes of mammalian diversity, focusing primarily on the effects of hybridization on the species boundary.