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  • Doctor of Philosophy with emphasis in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation and Management from the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona and a minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Major advisor: Dr. Melanie Culver; Dissertation: A biogeographic perspective of speciation among desert tortoises in the genus Gopherus

  • Master of Science with a major in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the School of Renewable Natural Resources at the University of Arizona, Tucson.  Major advisor: Dr. Cecil Schwalbe; Thesis: Desert Tortoise Conservation Genetics: genetic variability among and within Sonoran populations

  • Bachelor of Arts in Zoology from the University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Study Abroad; three month ecological research cooperation in the People’s Republic of China between San Francisco State University and the Kunming Institute of Ecology as part of the “Wildlands” Field Research Program




University of Arizona

Arizona Molecular Clinical Core

(Formerly the University of Arizona Genetics Core)

Position: Associate Staff Scientist       2003 – Present


The Arizona Genetics Core & Arizona Molecular Clinical Core offers access to state-of-the-art resources and services to help investigators, educators, students and the biotech community conduct and promote research in the field of genetics and genomics. 


In my role at the AZ Genetics Core/AZClinCore I have collaborated on project design and implementation of a wide range of population genetic and genomic projects for a large variety of taxa, including birds, fish, plants, amphibians, reptiles and mammals (plus humans). I have managed daily operations for high-profile, large-scale projects such as National Geographic and IBM’s “Genographic Project.” 


I am currently the Laboratory Manager and “Clinical Development Scientist” for the Arizona Molecular Clinical Core. The AZClinCore is a CLIA certified/CAP accredited laboratory where we specialize in molecular testing, most recently validating and implementing clinical testing services for SARS-CoV-2 antibody and RT-PCR tests.

National Geographic Expeditions
National Geographic Expert       2001 – Present


National Geographic Expeditions provides ecotourism travel to a wide variety of destinations around the world. I accompany these expeditions primarily as a lecturer and teacher where I present relevant, scientific topics to participants. I have led over 20 programs to U.S. National Parks, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.



2021    University of Arizona Team Award for Excellence: In recognition of outstanding departmental excellence as part of the Covid-19 Testing Team: Presented 30 April, 2021.

2016    Rob Gilman Memorial Research Award: Presented by Garcia and Associates and the Desert Tortoise Council Awards Committee. 29 February 2016. $500. 


2016    Robert C. Stebbins Research Award: Desert Tortoise Council Symposium. 19–21 February 2016, Las Vegas, Nevada.


2014    University of Arizona Undergraduate Biology Research Program (UBRP) "Outstanding Graduate Student/Postdoc/Technician Mentor” Award: presented at the 26th annual UBRP Conference. 24 January 2015, Tucson, Arizona


2013    Fisher Scientific Scholar of Excellence Award: presented at the Frontiers in Immunobiology & Immunopathogenesis Symposium. 08 March 2013, Tucson, Arizona. $2000


2013    Robert C. Stebbins Research Award: Desert Tortoise Council Symposium. 15–17 February 2013, Las Vegas, Nevada.


2012    Jarchow Conservation Award: Tucson Herpetological Society. 20 November 2012, Tucson, Arizona.


2012    Robert C. Stebbins Research Award: Desert Tortoise Council Symposium. 17–19 February 2012, Las Vegas, Nevada.


2012    Best Student Paper: Desert Tortoise Council Symposium. 17–19 February 2012, Las Vegas, Nevada.


2011    David J. Morafka Memorial Research Award: Presented at the Desert Tortoise Council 36th Annual Symposium. 18–20 February 2011, Las Vegas, NV. $2,000


2011    Best Student Paper: Desert Tortoise Council 36th Annual Symposium. 18-20 February 2011, Las Vegas, Nevada.


2009    Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee: Appreciation for contributions to desert tortoise protection. Presented at the DTPC Annual Meeting. 24 January 2009, Lancaster, California. 


2008    Research Award: Desert Tortoise Council 33rd Annual Symposium. 22–25 February 2008, Las Vegas, Nevada.


2007    Edmond A. Arbas Award of Excellence: Arizona Research Laboratories, University of Arizona.


2004    Outstanding Thesis: University of Arizona, School of Natural Resources.


2003    Recipient of a $500 Travel Award from the Graduate and Professional
Student Council at the University of Arizona.


2003     Best Student Paper: Desert Tortoise Council 28th Annual Symposium. 21–23 February 2003, Las Vegas, Nevada.


2002     Best Student Paper: Desert Tortoise Council 27th Annual Symposium. 22–25 March 2002, Palm Springs, California. 


1996     Excellence in Journalism Award presented at the 1996 American Association of Zookeepers National Conference.




FDA EUA: Primary author on Emergency Use Authorization received from the FDA for COVID-19 ELISA pan-Ig Antibody Test (EUA201116).


Border BioBlitz: Mexican/U.S. cross-border biological inventory. Planning committee member and participant at Coronado National Memorial, AZ; 3 March 2018 and 3 March 2019.

College of American Pathologists (CAP) Inspection Team Leader/Member: Completed CAP training requirements and participate as a team member in a CAP unannounced laboratory inspections; July 2016, June 2018; Team Leader – Sept. 2019.

Invention Disclosure: Software portal for order intake and management. 15% contribution of intellectual property. Filed with UA Tech Launch Arizona, January 2016.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Invited scientific peer reviewer for the draft Species Status Assessment (SSA) for the Sonoran desert tortoise, 2015.

Art/Science - 6&6 Project: Selected participant in Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers project to foster collaboration between artists and scientists to explore the patterns and processes of the Sonoran Desert and Gulf of California, 2015 – 2019.


Turtle Conservancy: Advisory Board Member, 2015 – Present.


UCLA/La Kretz  Workshop in Conservation Genomics: Held at the La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science, 23–28 March, 2013.

City of Tucson - Evaluation Committee Member for Outsourcing of DNA Casework: Recruited for technical qualifications to develop an objective analysis of proposals for outsourcing DNA casework by the Tucson Police Department, July-August 2012.

Undergraduate Biology Research Program: Student Mentor and Small Group Co-Leader, 2012–2015.

National Geographic BioBlitz - Saguaro National Park: Herpetological Inquiry Group and Basecamp Science Tent Group Leader; October 21–22, 2011.

Namibia Study Abroad Program: Co-instructor for the Desert Ecology and Conservation Biology in Namibia program (RNR 495A/595A) offered through the UA Office of Study Abroad and Student Exchange. Lead 6-week, summer programs in 2008 and 2009.

Bolson Tortoise Recovery Team: Provide genotyping services and technical advice on captive breeding efforts by the Turner Endangered Species Fund, 2007–Present.


Wildlife Forensic Genotyping Services: Genetic testing of amphibians for Chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) and species identification of confiscated Gopherus performed pro bono for agency, non-profit and academic institutions, 2006–2013.

NSF Funded workshop on Genetics, Ethics, and Taxonomy of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: Invited attendee. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 8–12 August 2005.

Conference Organizer: Current Research on the Herpetofauna of the Sonoran Desert IV; 11–13 April 2008, Tucson, AZ and Current Research on Herpetofauna of the Sonoran Desert II; 5–7 April 2002, Tucson, AZ.

Teaching Assistant at the University of Arizona: Herpetology 483/583, course taught by Dr. Kevin E. Bonine, Spring 2002.

Tucson Herpetological SocietyPresident 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009; Vice President 2002; Board of Directors 1999, 2000; Speakers Bureau Director 1999–2004.

Biological Survey of the Sierra Los Ajos, Mexico: Invited herpetologist; 1–7 August 1999.


20 years of genetic research on a Sonoran Desert icon: The Desert tortoise. Tucson Herpetological Society. November 22nd. Zoom Presentation (Start at 19:54 min)


Science Talks: A conversation hosted by the University of Arizona’s BIO5 Institute. October 11, 2021 Episode 20: Tortoises, genetics, and core facilities.

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