With yet another adult female Broadshell Turtle (Chelodina expansa) during fieldwork in north-central Victoria

With yet another adult female Broadshell Turtle (Chelodina expansa) during fieldwork in north-central Victoria

I can't remember a time that I wasn't fascinated with biology.  Childhood interests in sharks and snakes led me to seek an undergraduate degree in biology at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT).  As an undergrad at FIT, I studied the behavior and physiology of infrared reception in snakes in Dr Michael Grace's laboratory.  I also participated in an NSF-funded research experience for undergrads under Dr Michael Dorcas at Davidson College, where I studied black ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoletus) spatial ecology.

After earning my BS, I pursued my PhD in Biology under Dr Steven Beaupre at the University of Arkansas.  My dissertation research examined the physiological mechanisms and bioenergetic costs underlying reproductive allocation in viviparous snakes, and the mechanisms by which hatchling Smooth Softshell Turtles (Apalone mutica) utilize residual yolk (with Dr Michael Plummer).  Along the way, I assisted Dr. Beaupre in his long-term field and laboratory investigation of Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) physiological ecology.

"Fishing" for pregnant female Southern Grass Skinks (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii) for my research on placental evolution.  Photo by Christopher Friesen

"Fishing" for pregnant female Southern Grass Skinks (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii) for my research on placental evolution.  Photo by Christopher Friesen

 

 

After finishing my PhD in 2010, I was hired as a postdoc in Dr Bill Hopkins' laboratory to study the effects of coal fly-ash contaminants on vertebrate reproduction.  In 2012, I was awarded an NSF International Research Fellowship to study the physiology and evolution of viviparity and the placenta, using reptiles as model systems.  This opportunity brought me to work in Prof Michael Thompson's lab at the University of Sydney (USyd), in Australia.  From 2015-2017, I worked in Dr Ricky Spencer's lab at Western Sydney University (WSU), on the conservation and physiological ecology of Australian Turtles.

 

Teaching students from the University of South Australia about turtle conservation

Teaching students from the University of South Australia about turtle conservation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And as of June, 2016 I figured out how to go back to my childhood roots and safely study the evolution of viviparity and placentation in sharks.  I am collaborating with Dr Camilla Whittington from the University of Sydney, and Prof Colin Simpfendorfer from James Cook University, on this project.

Adult male Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) observed on a cage dive off Port Lincoln, South Australia

Adult male Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) observed on a cage dive off Port Lincoln, South Australia