I am a Missouri native and have spent my educational and professional years traveling throughout the state. I was born and raised in the city of St. Louis, but fell in love with small towns and rural communities when I moved to Kirksville to attend Truman State University and earn a BS in Biology.
I returned home for my Master’s degree, earning a MS in Biology from St. Louis University. I then moved to West Plains, in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks, where I taught introductory biology courses for 9 years at Missouri State University-West Plains. In 2004, I began my doctoral studies at the University of Missouri and earned my I earned a Ph.D. in Forestry in 2008.
Following graduation, I joined the faculty at Westminster where I have a dual appointment in Biology and Environmental Sciences. Westminster is a very good fit for me. I love the small campus and the close-knit community; it feels like home. Best of all I love working with the students; they amaze me on a daily basis with their talents, dedication, and achievements. The quality students brought me here, they inspire me to be the very best instructor and scientist I can be, and they give me hope for the future.
As an ecologist, my research interests are primarily in the fields of disturbance ecology and community structuring. Research for my MS degree investigated the effects of clear cut logging on the herbaceous community; and Ph.D. research investigated the effects of flooding on the physical, chemical and biotic properties of riparian soils. Perhaps the most important aspect of my dissertation was the investigations into how flooding affects soil microbial community characteristics, since there was little previous work in this area. This soil microbial ecology work has fostered an interest in plant-soil-plant interactions and their role in the structuring of plant communities. One area of particular interest is the influence of exotic species on community stability and function.
As an environmentalist, I am interested in human-environment interactions. We interact with the environment every day, from basic concerns as to what we wear to more complex issues as to how we generate energy. The natural world provides the resources for the food we eat, the goods we create and the shelters we live in. It also is a place we go for renewal. In the courses I teach, we look at these human-environment interactions and discuss issues such as global climate change, alternative energy sources, and emerging new food systems.
For recreation, my husband and I spend as much time outdoors as possible. Favorite activities include hiking in the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks, hunting for wildflowers and waterfalls, floating one of the many Ozark streams or the “Big Muddy”, and cycling on the KATY trail. We also enjoy tending our gardens which include Missouri wildflowers and raised vegetable beds. A more recent passion is making quilts for special occasions for friends and family.View Curriulum Vitae