I am an organismal biologist who has always been focused on fishes, primarily their ecology and evolutionary history, but I have often ventured into work on various aspects of fish habitats, and sometimes other (usually aquatic) taxa. Most of my work has had some link to conservation, and with a few exceptions, my geographic focus has been on the arid southwestern United States and northern Mexico. My job as Curator of the University of Texas fish collection has long had me working with the fauna of that state, and now most of my time is dedicated to the Fishes of Texas project and spinoffs of it that apply its database in diverse, usually conservation-relevant ways. More and more I find myself learning about data management, web publishing and bioinformatics, as I work to make the data about the specimens I curate and the Fishes of Texas database useful to others.
My interest in fishes goes back to my youngest childhood in Arizona. I can't remember not having fishes in aquaria anywhere I have lived or worked, and I was a fishing junkie from about age 10 through my undergraduate days at Arizona State University (ASU), where I obtained my B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife. From there I spent a couple years as a Peace Corps volunteer employed by Colombia's Natural Resources Agency, INDERENA, doing fisheries management-related fieldwork in the middle Río Magdalena basin. Then, off to England for a Masters in Applied Hydrobiology at University of London, and eventually back to ASU for a job, originally, but it transitioned into a Ph.D. program punctuated by various side projects that kept money coming in to help support the family. While those side projects provided publications and fun field work, in terms of long-term career impact the most significant distraction during my doctoral program was employment as the Native Fish Biologist for the State of Arizona (Arizona Game and Fish Department). Applying my skills in the management arena for several yeas was fun, as was all the fieldwork, but I longed to get back to the freedom of academia. I took the Curator job that I still have in 1990 and still love it.