I was born in Maryland, and attended both Anne Arundel Community College and St. Mary's College of Maryland, where I graduated with a BS in Biological Sciences. I became excited about algae, and diatoms in particular, during amazing field experiences at the University of Michigan Biological Station and Iowa Lakeside Lab. I received a MS degree (Biological Sciences) from Bowling Green State University and a Ph.D. (Natural Resources) from the University of Michigan, where I also did a post-doctoral fellowship.
I held the G Dallas Hanna Chair in Diatom Studies at the California Academy of Sciences for 20 years, where I also was the Director of Research and Executive Director. Currently I am the Director of the Natural History Museum and Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and I teach at the University of Michigan Biological Station during summers.
I am interested in the taxonomy, systematics, evolution and ecology of diatoms, particularly freshwater taxa. I also study the biogeography of diatoms, with an eye to documenting what species grow where, what patterns of distribution there might be and what explanations we might have to account for those patterns.