I did my B.S. Biology at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. It was during this time that I began my fascination with spiders. After graduating, I spent a year teaching English at Bella Vista Academy in Mayaguez P.R. I then started graduate school at Lima Linda University eventually finding my way to the Department of Earth and Biological Sciences. While there, I completed my Ph.D. under Dr. William Hayes studying the venom and behavior of the Western Black Widow spider. I have continued this line of research here at Southern. After completing my Doctorate, I worked on a post-doc project in paleontology, in a joint lab between Loma Linda University and Southwestern Adventist University.
I am interested in behavioral and chemical ecology i.e. how organisms use chemical and behaviors to survive. I am particularly interested in how much willful control a spider has in making decisions and modifying their behavioral use of venom and silk in response to threats.
In addition, I am interested in understanding what factors drive evolution. How much and how fast can evolution happen?
I am married to Marie Nelsen. We have two daughters, Pearl and Olivine, both of which are balls of energy. When I am not at school I am spending time with my family.
I look forward to helping you find your way during your time at Southern.