I Am West Georgia
Job title: Assistant Professor, Biology Department.
What I really do: Try to balance an active research program with meaningful mentoring for all of my UWG students. My research involves understanding how ecology and evolution influence animal behavior – particularly songbirds. This means I get to play outside all spring and summer! I teach Ecology, Evolution, and Animal Behavior.
Years at UWG: Almost 2 (I will be starting my third year this fall).
Before UWG, I: Was a post-doc at the Smithsonian Institution where I worked in the Migratory Bird Center. Before moving to DC, I graduated from Duke University with a Ph.D. in biology. I got my start as a budding behavioral ecologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
One thing I would change about UWG: I would like an office with a window.
I was born in: The suburbs of Philadelphia.
Family members are: Kitty family: Stripey, Cookie, Rocco and Orange. People family: mom, sister and extended family live in Philadelphia suburbs; Jeremy Hyman, my significant other, lives in western NC (with Rocco and Orange). We like to think we have a country house (Sylva, NC) and town house (Carrollton, GA).
People describe me as: I guess it would depend on the perspective of the person. I’ve heard that students call me challenging but fair (I’m 100% ok with that). My colleagues will probably describe me as sociable and friendly. My close friends and family would probably describe me as funny and opinionated. Jeremy thinks I’m silly.
Most colleagues don’t know that: I am very silly.
Favorite things to do: I enjoy my work in the lab, field and classroom. I like music, comedy, eating delicious food and cooking food outside, spending time with friends and family, traveling to cool places to see cool birds with cool people.
Favorite quote: “Nothing in biology makes sense expect in the light of evolution.” - Theodosius Dobzhansky.
Proudest accomplishment so far: Taking the road less traveled to pursue my interests and passion in biology despite gnawing doubt and anxiety that, much to my surprise, lead to a very satisfying career that makes me very happy (most of the time).
Pet peeve: Willful ignorance.
Best advice ever received: “There is plenty of time to sleep when you are dead.” - Stephen Nowicki (my illustrious Ph.D. advisor)
Best advice for new faculty and staff: There is plenty of time to sleep when you are dead.
What I most want to contribute to students: Ultimately, I want to help students discover their passions and provide them with the tools and confidence to follow those passions. But at the very least I hope that I open students’ minds to a view of the world that they haven’t seen or considered before.
The book everyone should read: “On the Origin of Species,” Charles Darwin.
The movie everyone should watch: With the exception of silly comedies like “Shaun of the Dead,” “Napoleon Dynamite” or my all time favorite “Dazed and Confused,” I’m not a big Hollywood film watcher. I usually find them predictable, overly melodramatic and exploitative. But, I really like documentary films. So I think everyone should see “An Inconvenient Truth” by Davis Guggenheim.
The person, dead or alive, I’d most like to meet: Charles Darwin.
The place I’d love to travel to where I haven’t been yet: So many places! South America, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Grand Canyon….
Although you didn’t ask, I’d like to tell you anyway: Advice that I would offer to students – Be fearless; the only thing that is preventing you from doing what you want to do is fear.
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