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LSU Today Flagship Faculty
What was your previous position and where?I was a postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
What brought you to LSU?LSU was offering a position for a curator of fishes in the Museum of Natural Science and an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. As an ichthyologist, I was trained to do both and I really hoped to find such a position someday, and that day came when I was offered the position. The LSU Museum of Natural Science has a great reputation as one of the most active research museums in the country, and I was very eager to be a part of that group.
What are your research interests?My current research interests stem from my desire to understand fundamental aspects of biological diversity. These fundamental aspects include the relationships of organisms and their morphological complexity. I study these aspects using phylogenetic systematics, geometric morphometrics and other tools. These tools allow us to understand broader themes such as historical biogeography, molecular evolution, conservation and the evolution of morphological diversity. As an ichthyologist, my focus is on process-oriented evolutionary biology in marine fishes and pattern-oriented evolutionary biology in freshwater fishes. As a systematist, I use molecular and morphological tools to help discover relationships among species and resolve taxonomy in order to better understand the evolutionary history of fishes.
What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?I hope to maintain an independently and federally funded and active lab of students doing both international and local research on fishes. I hope to teach my undergraduate courses — ichthyology and evolution — successfully, and to inspire young students to work in research and to better understand the natural world around them.
What do you enjoy most about LSU?I really love how kind and collegial everyone is at LSU. I've come from a background of schools and institutions where people were competitive to the point of being distant and sometimes not very friendly with each other. My LSU colleagues all seem to get along quite well yet they maintain a competitive spirit that drives each one of us to improve.
What are your major accomplishments?I've been lucky enough to have traveled to more than 20 countries to conduct research on fishes. I've described mor than a dozen new species, including two pancake batfish species from Louisiana and several cavefishes from Australia and Madagascar. The pancake batfishes were named among the Top 10 new species described in 2010. Iíve published more than 30 papers related to systematic research in ichthyology on a range of topics from continental drift to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill. I was recently awarded the 2013 LSU Rainmaker Emerging Scholar Award.