My two main research interests are in behavioral ecology and science pedagogy. My research in behavioral ecology deals primarily with coevolution between predators and prey. In collaboration with my wife, Dr. Ashlee Rowe, we are investigating the interactions between scorpion mice (Onychomys spp.) and their biochemically protected prey, including bark scorpions (Centruroides spp.) and pinacate beetles (Eleodes spp.). Ashlee’s training in molecular neurophysiology and mine in ecology and behavior permits us to explore nearly the full spectrum of analytical levels in biology, from functional analyses of the mutations in grasshopper-mouse ion channels that confer resistance to scorpion neurotoxins, to how such resistance influences prey choice by the mice, to the impact of insectivory on niche partitioning among desert rodents.
My interest in science pedagogy is driven by H.G. Wells’ warning that “civilization is a race between education and catastrophe.” We now find ourselves in a “post-truth” world of our own making. Reason, logic, and evidentiary thinking (i.e., the underpinnings of science) no longer matter – reality is whatever one believes it to be. Vaccines cause autism, global warming is a hoax, the moon landings were faked. Denialism, unfortunately, seldom solves problems, and tips the scales towards catastrophe. Thus, I am passionate about advancing effective science instruction for everyone, including students that are not majoring in the sciences. I am actively involved in efforts to find better approaches for enhancing scientific literacy, for teaching critical thinking, and for empowering students to use logic and evidence when making important decisions in their daily lives.