I’m a little late in getting my introduction up, and I’ll confess to being new to blogging, but am very excited to participate in the NABT BioBlog. I am the Education Project Director at the National Center for Science Education. While NCSE is known for having to deal with the evolution/creationism controversy, I am more involved with promoting strong evolution education and doing outreach to teachers! Such a position works well for me because after getting a Ph.D. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, I am passionate about evolution and consider it to offer one of the most powerful, and awe-inspiring, scientific explanations of all time!
I remember learning about Charles Darwin and evolution in 9th grade biology, and thinking that it made the entire world make sense. A visit to the Galapagos Islands when I was teaching high school in the 1990′s also fueled my passion for evolution. These two experiences were certainly instrumental in my decision to leave teaching and pursue an advanced degree in evolutionary biology. [The other was a course with Lynn Margulis, but I'll save that for another post]. I am particularly interested in understanding the evolutionary processes that create and maintain biological diversity, and even more specifically, how genetic drift and sexual selection shape patterns of evolutionary change and influence the evolution of sexual isolation and speciation. I’ve had the opportunity to reserach the courtship behavior and pheromone communication in plethodontid salamanders, use quantitative genetic models to simulate speciation, and describe a new species of salamander from northern California.
What I love about my current position is getting to work with teachers, whose enthusiasm for biology is contagious! It is my hope that I can help identify common misconceptions about the nature of science and evolution, which will ultimately clarify why evolution really is THE organizing principle of biology.
Finally, all the above work is really eclipsed by watching my 3 year old daughter begin to show the same passion for the natural world that I have, a passion that was certainly inspired in me by my mother!