These are the first responders to your herpetology questions. We thank them for their service. Contact SSAR if you are interested in being part of the team.
Alex Krohn (mentor)
I am a recently graduated PhD student from University of California, Berkeley. I studied how different reptiles species independently involved to be dark in coloration on lava flows in the deserts of New Mexico. I’m interested in convergent evolution, how animals and their predators see coloration, how reptiles make different colors, and the genetics of adaptation. I also love going out into the field to find reptiles and amphibians in my spare time. So far I’ve been to more than 25 countries looking for different herps!
Vicky Zhuang (mentor)
I am the collection manager at the University of Texas at El Paso Biodiversity Collections. I take care of all of our natural history specimens. As a graduate student, I studied the evolution of gecko foot anatomy and physics of gecko locomotion. I have quite a few pets at the moment, including a Giant Day Gecko (Waluigia), desert tortoise (Peregrino), Waxy Monkey frogs (Luffy, Nami, Zoro and Sanji) and a dog (Dottie).
I am a master’s student at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. My research is currently focused on determining the dietary habits and distribution of the Rio Grande Cooter (Pseudemys gorzugi). I am an avid herper and spend much of my free time searching for reptiles and amphibians in the Austin area. I currently own and care for 7 different reptile species, including tortoises, geckos, kingsnakes and a Trans-Pecos Ratsnake. I love all things herp-related and would be glad to answer any questions you may have.
I recently graduated from Emporia State University with a Master’s in Biology. My research examined the effects of gastrointestinal parasitism on stress levels in Northern Watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon). I’m currently employed with the United States Geological Survey where I will be doing research examining the immune system in native fish species. When I’m not working or in the gym, I enjoy being outside as much as possible and working with the SSAR Student Participation Committee. I’ve been fascinated with herps my entire life and don’t ever see that changing.
I am a master’s student at Villanova University studying gecko coloration and evolution. I use computer modelling to determine how color patterns are perceived by visual systems different than our own; for example, reptiles can see ultraviolet (UV) light that is invisible to us. As part of my research I keep and breed several species of dwarf gecko, including the critically endangered (and bright blue!) Lygodactylus williamsi. Outside of the lab, I am an avid wildlife photographer and fossil hunter.
Oceane Da Cunha
I am a PhD student at the University of Texas at El Paso working on the life history of the Hog-Islands Boa and its implications for conservation. During my studies, I worked on different projects: I followed the population of the Green Toad in East France, I examined the energetic significance of the basking behavior of the European pond turtle, and I studied the biology, movements, and habitat use of the Timber rattlesnake for my master’s degree. I love being outside and I never stop looking for herps.