Bonjour! Just wrapped up an exploratory expedition to the West African nations of Benin & Togo, where I have been laying the groundwork for both research and study abroad opportunities with local contacts along with colleagues from Michigan State University. We spent much of our time with local voodoo practitioners learning about the sacred forests spread throughout this part of the world, with a focus on the interactions among their spiritual practices, stewardship of the sacred forests, and the biological diversity within and around the forests. My colleagues and I are especially interested in exploring the social and scientific issues that form the backdrop for these interactions. For my part, I'm interested in how arthropod diversity both within and around sacred forests may play a role in both the spiritual and the scientific (conservation) aspects of this interplay. For instance, forest stewardship may bolster ecosystem services such as pollination and biological control in nearby agricultural fields. I'm looking forward to setting up some experiments with colleagues at the university in Abomey-Calavi (Cotonou) to test some hypotheses related to these and other interchanges - as well as creating opportunities for UW Tacoma students to explore the myriad rich cultural and scientific aspects of life and conservation in West Africa.
I'm the Director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) at California State University, Monterey Bay. Prior to that, I was at the University of Washington, Tacoma campus for 16 years, where I was a Professor in the Environmental Science program and also served as the Director of the Office of International Programs as well as Director of Undergraduate Education for a few years. Trained as an ecologist, I'm interested in various aspects of global conservation and agricultural production - my field research often takes me and my students to interesting places to explore various aspects of these two issues.