I grew up in Oneonta, New York, one-time home to the National Soccer Hall of Fame and home to the largest railroad roundhouse in the world (until it burned down). In 1984, after graduating High School at age 17, I enlisted in the U.S. Army and served a 4-year hitch in an artillery unit that was part of an Airborne Battalion Combat Team, stationed in Vicenza, Italy.
After being honorably discharged in 1988, I decided to go to college. I had taken a couple of college courses while overseas, and after my discharge I took a few classes at Lansing Community College, then earned a B.S. in Health Science with an emphasis on Exercise Science from Grand Valley State Universityin Allendale, Michigan. While there, I had the opportunity to work in a nursing lab and as a teaching assistant in the human anatomy lab. I enjoyed the interactions in those settings, and realized that I wanted to teach at the college level. Upon graduation, I entered the graduate program in Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, MI.
One of my lab rotations there was to work for Dr. Morris Goodman, who was doing DNA-sequence analyses on the evolutionary relationships of Primates. I found the work to be interesting and, at the time, cutting-edge, and opted to train with Dr. Goodman. While working on my doctorate, I sequenced approximately 11,000 bases of DNA from 20 species – which at the time was an enormous amount of data and work – to use in our phylogenetic analyses of Primates. These studies are premised on three basic, straightforward, incontrovertible facts: 1. Mutations occur; 2. Some mutations are heritable and can be passed on to offspring; 3. The patterns of these inherited mutations can be used to infer parent-offspring relationships, and by extrapolation, ancestor-descendant relationships. My work was focused on two basic questions – What are the relationships within the Cercopithecids ( a group of Old World monkeys) and What are the relationships of Humans to the other Great Apes. We were able to confirm a somewhat controversial proposal regarding the Cercopithecids, and added support to the proposal to put humans and chimpanzees into a common genus.
I arrived at Norwich University in 1999, just 2 months after earning a PhD. in Anatomy and Cell Biology with a declared minor in Physical Anthropology.
My wife of 25 years is a High School teacher and we have two children. My hobbies include target shooting, building and crashing (and occasionally flying) radio-controlled airplanes, and reading, especially Civil War and World War II history and science-related non-fiction.