I received my BSc. in Biology from Martin Methodist College (now The University of Tennessee Southern), Pulaski, Tennessee.
I then attended Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where I received a Masters of Science degree in Biology. My thesis: Analysis of coral distribution and coral symbionts in a patch reef and fringing reef in the southern Caribbean focused on field research conducted along the north eastern coast of Toco, Trinidad, where I continue to conduct annual coral reef monitoring and genetic analyses of invertebrates.
I attended Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, where I received my Ph.D. and I am now Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Biology at The University of Tennessee Southern.
I am currently co-editor of the Continental and Diasporic Africa in Science Research (CADASE) magazine. CADASE is a Research Interest Group of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching.
Each year, I travel to Trinidad to collect data on marine biodiversity along patch reefs located at Grande L' Anse, and the only fringing reef in Trinidad at Salybia Bay. In 2005, I began collecting data on benthic biodiversity and distribution at these sites, but now I have added research on size and distribution of marine invertebrates, such as sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and fireworms. Additionally, I have added molecular techniques and phylogeny to identify and understand zoantharian biodiversity at both sites.
For molecular analyses, I work with undergraduate students in the lab on techniques related to their research question. We separate DNA from tissues, followed by PCR to amplify concentration, then analyze by gel electrophoresis. After sequencing, phylogenetic analyses helps us understand species identification and connectivity.
I continue to review students deep thoughts using student journals with their marine experiences. Most students in Tennessee have never visited the Ocean, hence this has added qualitative research, which adds another feature to research.
In 2015, I took my first student to Trinidad to conduct research on marine environments, and experience the culture. While in Trinidad, students experience Leatherback turtle nesting at Grande Riviere. Students also visit the Asa Wright Nature Center and Caroni Bird Sanctuaries, and the La Brea Asphalt Lake.
Students venture to Tobago, where they board the glass bottom boat to the Nylon Pool and Buccoo Reef.
Abroad travel is such an adventure for students. I remember my abroad travels to Jordan, Red Sea, and Malawi, Africa, hence I use my experience to plan the trip of a lifetime for these students. Most of my students come from rural backgrounds, and many of their family and friends have never been to the Ocean.