I am a physiologist by training, but with a deep interest in the interface of physiology with evolution, ecology and adaptation. If you wish, you can see the hairy details in my curriculum vita.
This interest has led me into an eclectic mix of research problems, including how alligators use blood to move heat around their bodies, how a bird embryo works with an incubating parent to manage heat flow through the egg, how black beetles, stone plants and trap-door spiders living in deserts manage their temperatures in the harsh environments they inhabit, and, most recently, how termites build structures to manage the physiology of their colonies. You can read about this on my research page.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a passionate attachment to deserts. I think this came from my growing up in
Since 1990, I have been on the faculty of the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry in
My philosophy of both teaching and research is to always ask the radical question. Nothing arouses my suspicion more readily than consensus: by the time wisdom has become conventional, it’s a safe bet that it has accumulated sufficient baggage to hold some interesting errors in there somewhere. The job of people like me, I believe, is to ferret those out: it’s the only way we can grow intellectually.
This contarian streak has led me to write two books that I am very proud of, one on why animals build things, and the other on the problem of design in biology. You can read more about them, and some of my other publications, on my publications page.
It has also led me on a long odyssey to the political right, to the amusement (and sometimes dismay) of friends and colleagues. Among other things, this odyssey has led me into another of my curious obsessions: the grave threat facing intellectual freedom in the modern world. This threat is, I believe, pervasive. Paradoxically, nowhere is the threat graver than the very place that should be defending it most strenuously: the academy. You can read more about this on my blog, if you wish.