My students and I are organismal biologists at heart. Therefore, we let our intense interest in the life histories of amphibians and reptiles guide us to appropriate questions to ask of these animals rather than allowing an interest in a particular question force us to examine organisms for which we have no passion. All levels of scientific inquiry are encouraged, from descriptive to experimental and from field to laboratory. Additionally, broad experiences within the field of herpetology are encouraged.
These experiences include access to a number of fine field sites in Alabama and Costa Rica (regions with unusually rich herpetofaunas), participation in curation of a notable herpetological collection within the Auburn University Museum, and opportunities to influence the local populace about amphibians and reptiles through school and community programs.
The primary goal of activities in my lab is to provide new knowledge to the scientific community in the form of research publications. While the scope of this research is limited taxonomically, all graduate-level projects are expected to explore patterns of broad interest to the fields of ecology, evolution, and/or conservation biology. In this respect, students are expected to know enough about current trends in the latter fields to understand how their herp-oriented research projects might shape theory-based research.
Auburn is a member of the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) and, therefore, our graduate students are eligible for the field course in tropical biology offered by OTS. I try to encourage all of my students to take advantage of this exceptional educational opportunity.