About David

Current Position: I am a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at Penn State University in the Ecology Program. I’m in Dr. Dave Miller’s Applied Population Ecology Lab, and I also operate as network coordinator for the Salamander Population and Adaptation Research Collaboration Network (SPARCnet). For more see Research.

Ambitions: I love working with people. My most concrete career goal is to become faculty at a liberal arts institution where I can teach and use research as a mentoring tool. My more nebulous career goal is to be in a leadership position where I can coordinate and influence decision-making, project management, and strategic thinking for an organization/department. Thankfully these two aren’t mutually exclusive! For more see Jobs and Career.

My story:

On the bluffs of the Mississippi with Josh after his move to Wisconsin.

On the bluffs of the Mississippi with Josh after his move to Wisconsin.

Unlike most wildlife ecologists, I did not grow up reveling in the outdoors. I did not know ecology was a career option until my second year at Elon University where I met Dr. Joshua Kapfer. Josh invited me to join him for field work after taking his general education course on Wildlife Conservation, and from that point on I pursued as many opportunities as I could to learn more about ecology, conservation, and management. This was a big change from my initial major, international studies.

Josh mentored me through multiple research projects and my two-year Honors Program thesis. Before I graduated in 2012 with a B.S. in Environmental and Ecological Science, I secured a grant to attend the Wildlife Society national conference and was exposed to a broader spectrum of wildlife research being done. That experience encouraged me to work seasonal wildlife positions to learn more about career opportunities and to explore new ecological concepts. I gained valuable perspectives on federal management with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, large-scale research at a Long Term Ecological Research station (LTER), and applied research through Ohio State.

These jobs helped formulate my two main research goals for graduate school: 1) advance my quantitative skills, 2) learn how wildlife will respond to global change. This led me to Penn State to work with David Miller.

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