Adviser’s research interests, good lab space, and proximity to field sites are all reasons why I chose FSU.
Motivation to pursue a graduate degree
I decided to pursue a graduate degree because I want to teach at the college level and I do not want to live in similar conditions to those that I grew up in.
Importance and impact of research
My research is important because it focuses on how the rate of adaptive evolution can be slowed by several factors, particularly multiple life stages (larvae and adults). The rate of adaptive evolution can be used to predict if populations will persist if the rate is fast enough to allow a population to evolve quickly enough to keep up with changes to the environment, such as an increase in temperature and a decrease in pH. Knowing what could influence the rate of adaptive evolution improves our understanding of which populations will remain intact in the future. Additionally, organisms with multiple life stages are rarely studied at all life stages in spite of their abundance (Insects, crabs, sea urchins, oysters, marine gastropods, etc.).
I want to teach at the collegiate level. A long-term goal of mine is to see more minorities (Black males in particular) in life sciences. I aspire to address public misconceptions of evolution as well.
Advice for anyone considering graduate school
Think of graduate school as an investment in yourself. It’s hard, but it doesn’t last forever and it likely won’t be your career. Academia or research does not have to be the only focus in your life to make your reason to enter valid, but be sure to do it in a field that at worst is somewhat necessary for achieving your life goals. Do not attend graduate school because of pressure from others, even family and friends, because you are the one that has to do the work to succeed in it. Lastly, graduate school is less about how intelligent you are as much as it is about your resolve and grit. Bad things happen to everyone, and you are guaranteed to make mistakes. How well you don’t let your mistakes slow you down or discourage you is key to making it.
Accomplishments during graduate career
Figuring out the life-history of the animals I work on and developing a dissection and fertilization protocol. Becoming competent at teaching a class. Going from an inexperienced diver with two recreational dives to an AAUS authorized SCUBA diver that was able to work on coral reefs in French Polynesia. Being a mentor for FGLSAMP mentees and watching them progress. Acquiring funds in excess of what my research initially required within my first three years. Though all PhD students that reach candidacy have accomplished this, I am proud of passing my preliminary exams as well.