I retired in 2011 after 37 years of teaching at the University of Nevada, Reno long enough to have had several sets of parents and children as students. I studied the behavior and ecology of mammals as familiar as beavers and wild horses and as unfamiliar as kangaroo rats. Most recently I have been interested in the evolution of personalities in kangaroo rats, asking why some are shy and others are bold and why males seem to have more variable personalities than females.
Like most academics, I published technical papers for specialists in professional journals, but I have gradually become convinced of the need for scientists to communicate with a more diverse audience. I have been fortunate to have had some recent opportunities to do this. Wild horses on public lands are a flashpoint of controversy in the western U.S., and I developed a computer model that is used by the Bureau of Land Management to plan population control measures for horses. This model influences how BLM managers interact with advocates for and against controlling horse populations on public lands. In 2004, Oxford University Press published my book, How science works: evaluating evidence in biology and medicine. The book uses several case studies to illustrate key aspects of the process of science for general readers.
In recent years I taught introductory biology for non-majors, research design for graduate students, and upper-division classes in ecology and mammalogy. I hope to continue educating beginning students and members of the general public about how science works, based on the fervent belief that the thinking tools of science can help everyone lead better lives.