About Me

I have always been fascinated by the natural world and have spent my life appreciating and attempting to understand it. A native to Illinois, I witnessed what the environment, stripped of natural resources, looks like. At first, I desired to leave and find a place where nature was untouched but in my travels, I discovered this place to not exist. Further, I realized that, rather than try to find a better place, we need to help repair the damage we have caused.

Michigan State University’s science program initially attracted me, but it was through studying abroad in the Galapagos Islands that I realized my passion for Marine Biology.  However, I still enjoyed studying howler monkeys in the canopies of Tiputini Biological Station and surveying for caiman and pink river dolphins, so when I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Zoology, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next.

To help figure out what I wanted to do, I began working at the Illinois Natural History Survey with Dr. Dave Wahl, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in the Department of Animal Biology with Dr. Ronald Larkin, and in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences with Dr. Cory Suski. At the same time I also worked as a veterinary technician at a local exotic animal hospital, as a veterinary assistant and a disaster responder at the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center, as well as an aquarist. The research I was doing at the UIUC inspired me to continue my education in fisheries and physiology.

I earned my Master’s degree in Wildlife, Fisheries, & Aquaculture under Dr. Peter Allen at Mississippi State University and my research focus was heat stress physiology and transcriptomics. Since my research was primarily aquaculture and lab based, I helped other graduate students on their projects to be able to get into the field and learn new techniques. I also collaborated with other professors on side projects to satisfy my diverse interests.

Pine Bluff

Immediately after graduating, I moved across the country to Corvallis, Oregon to start my position of faculty research assistant in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University under Dr. David Noakes and Dr. Carl Schreck. I immensely enjoyed my job at OSU, but knew I wanted to continue my education so I began my PhD program at McGill University, where I am happily doing what I love, research!

Bess group

My hobbies consist of hiking, herping, traveling, kayaking, SCUBA diving, and photography.

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2 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Very impressive site, Heather . Loved all of your pics. Those are some huge fish…a Muskie for the last? Do you have any salamander pictures on Flickr?


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