Biological Science Technician
I have had an avid interest in entomology as a young boy and would frequently explore the woods next to my family’s house in Texarkana for insects. Fast forward several years later to my years as an undergraduate student at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), I found myself assisting a few graduate students’ projects that involved the sorting and identification of aquatic insects. What originally started out a volunteer activity eventually turned into a part time summer job that performed in conjunction with summer classes. When I first came to college, I had my heart set on a career in marine biology and was eager to get involved with summer courses the University of Southern Mississippi (in partnership with UCA) offered. However, several major life decisions would forever change the trajectory of my career. In conjunction with the aquatic invertebrate research, I had also taken my first course in entomology. I was so given over to learning about insects, collecting them and identifying them that I decided that I would choose entomology as my career path. In addition, I got to participate in some agricultural work on a couple of mission trips to southern Africa (primarily in Mozambique) which served as confirmation for me to take entomology as a career path. In my graduate studies at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, I worked on isolating entomopathogenic (insect pathogenic) fungi from lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum) exposed to soil and assessing the fungi’s potential as biological control agents. I then embarked on a quest to look for a full-time position. That quest ultimately led me to Dr. Blair Sampson and later to the Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory. So far, the work for my position has included and field assays against spotted-winged Drosophila (SWD; Drosophila suzukii), maintaining lab colonies of insects (SWD and azalea lace bugs; Stephanitis pyrioides) and the occasional search for the elusive chimney bee (Anthophrora abrubta). When I’m not at plugging away at the lab or field, I enjoy hobbies such as Bible studies, fellowship with friends, coffee (including the roasting, grinding and brewing processes), cooking, gardening, virtual reality games on Oculus, hiking/exploring the outdoors, and the occasional road trip.