Biography

 

I've always known that I would eventually become a biologist. Diversity drives interest. The sheer diversity of life, behaviors, and interactions that exist in natural systems is nearly intractable. This has always led to a conflict in my mind and in my reserach in that nearly every question one could ask about a species or system interests me.

I began in science as an invertebrate biologist/entomologist. Vertebrates were boring, I thought, and mammals especially because I am a mammal. What could possibly be interesting about a group comprised of only 5500 warm-blooded, fuzzy things that carry their young and make milk? Compared to the diversity in body form and breeding habits of a single group of insects, let's say parasitoid wasps, mammals were unimpressive and thus remained low on my list of interesting research systems.

Then I discovered bats. Bats are an amazing and diverse group that fills many specific feeding and reproductive niches, some of which are completely unique among mammals. Their sensory systems are highly evolved for flight in a darkened, aerial environment from which they capture swerving insects. There are even bats with suction cups on the wrists and ankles! Taken together, one can hardly be surprised that bats are so successsful an organism that they comprise 1/5th of all known mammalian species.

Bats have afforded me great opportunity in my personal and professional life and I take great pride in being an ambassador for such an amazing group of animals. I like to think that the work done by myself and other bat researchers is 25% scientific exploration, 25% public outreach, and 50% plain ol' fashioned fun.