I grew up on a 1400-acre wildlife sanctuary in central Massachusetts, where I learned the rudiments of sheep farming, wildlife habitat management, and public science programming.
I received a Commonwealth Scholarship to do my undergraduate work at UMASS Amherst, where I received a BA in Anthropology and a BS in Geology. While at UMASS, I worked for a summer as an Archaeology Intern in Yosemite National Park. This experience ignited my love of fieldwork.
After my undergraduate education, I took two years off from academics and worked as the Property Manager of an urban wildlife sanctuary in Boston, MA. My duties included managing a community garden and a 10,000 square foot LEED-certified "green building," and this fostered my interest in sustainable community agriculture and architecture.
I went to graduate school at the George Washington University, where I received my Ph.D. in Biology under the supervision of Professor James M. Clark. My thesis was on the systematics and evolution of theropod dinosaurs from the Late Jurassic Shishugou Formation in western China. During my summers in graduate school, I joined a joint American-Chinese field expedition to Xinjiang, co-led by Professor Clark and Professor Xu Xing, of the IVPP in Beijing, and a Chinese field expedition to Bayan Mandahu in Inner Mongolia.
After completing my Ph.D. in 2010, I moved on to a postdoctoral position as a Kalbfleisch Fellow and Gerstner Scholar at the American Museum of Natural History, under the supervision of Dr. Mark A. Norell. As part of this appointment, I took part in the 2010-2012 annual Mongolian-American Expeditions, led by Dr. Norell and Dr. Michael Novacek of the American Museum. I am still a research fellow at the museum.
I am now a full Professor at the Evolutionary Studies Institute and an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. I'm working on the evolution of basal sauropodomorphs, the terrestrial Triassic-Jurassic boundary, and starting to dabble in non-dinosaurian matters.