Vlogger, Behavioral Ecologist
I was eight years old watching some cartoons in the living room, living the dream of a 90s kid. That’s when my uncle called me upstairs and showed me something that blew my mind: a bowl with about 20 praying mantis nymphs engaging in siblicide cannibalism. It’s probably not the most serene entry into science, but it was no less exciting. I was immediately filled with questions: “why is this happening?” “What’s the overall effect?” And come to find out, my uncle couldn’t answer most of them. And that’s when I decided to become a scientist and investigate the natural world. Specifically, since then I’ve been obsessed with figuring out how animal behaviors, not unlike what I witnessed many years ago, are shaped by – and in turn shape – the surrounding world. So, for my PhD at the University of California, Davis, I’ve been investigating how individual behaviors influence the interactions and overall success of an invasive and native species of spider. In this sense I’ve fashioned myself as a sort of “spider sociologist”, testing how the behavioral differences among black widow spiders and invasive cousin, the brown widow, influence their interactions with each other and the surrounding environment. Throughout my scientific journey, I have always faced the challenge of being an African-American scientist from the urban sprawl and connecting with the broader community. That is why I am proud to be a part of SciAll.org. My goal is to show that anyone can investigate these questions and that we can only truly understand our world if we are all asking them.