An Iowa native, I earned my B.S., Biology and then Ph.D. in genetics at the University of Iowa. I then embarked on a series of postdoctoral research appointments that examined a wide variety of plant biology questions, from genome assembly (Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School) and identification and localization of cell-specific patterns of plant gene expression (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory). I found an intellectual and professional home when my family and I moved to Wisconsin and I began work at the UW-Madison in 1996. Here, I continued to researches that explored, for examples, the hormonal control of plants embryo development (Department of Genetics), fungal population dynamics on the leaves of apple trees (Department of Plant Pathology), development and implementation of a high-throughput, semiautomated pipeline to localize transposon insertion sites in the model plant Arabidopsis (Horticulture Department) and, finally, on the development of improved tools and hands-on approaches to help students (and their teachers!) learn modern genetics (Biochemistry Department.)
One constant throughout my career in higher education and research has been to serve as mentor to undergraduate students and summer high school interns, nearly all of whom had had no prior experience in scientific research. In my work with Rick Amasino, UW Biochem, I had the privilege and responsibility to mentor almost 100 students from 2006 2019. We recently conducted a longitudinal survey to determine the educational and professional outcomes of former students and, to our delight, we found that all graduated with degrees in STEM fields and at least 2/3 continued their education to earn post-graduate degrees in biomedical research and/or have assumed careers in professions that require deep knowledge of genetic and genomic sciences. I attribute that success to a teaching philosophy that prioritizes development of critical thinking skills and encouragement of an approach in which every failurewhether on an exam or in the conduct of experimentsis viewed as an opportunity to learn from one's mistakes and thereby gain a deeper, richer level of understanding.
Undergraduate Degree: University of Iowa - Bachelor of Science, Biology, General
Graduate Degree: University of Iowa - Doctor of Philosophy, Genetics
I enjoy gardening, fishing/boating and watching our 3 children-- and now a grandson!-- grow into kind and thoughtful persons.