I have spent the majority of my career studying tree frogs. I started in evolutionary biology at the Universities of Georgia and Texas and became interested in neuroethology during a postdoc at Cornell. I joined the faculty in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri in 1971, where I was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 1977 and promoted to full professor in 1981. The University of Missouri Board of Curators appointed me a Curators’ Distinguished Professor in 1994 and selected me for the Thomas Jefferson Award in 2012. I also have held courtesy appointments at the University of Melbourne, University of Vienna, University of Bonn, University Kassel, and Ruhr University.
My lab’s work has straddled the fields of neurobiology, animal behavior (ethology), and evolution, and we have made valuable contributions to each. A hallmark of our research has been the use of electronically synthesized vocal signals to tease out the functions of various components of natural calls. We were the first lab to make extensive use of this technique, and it led us to identify the particular properties that identify a call as that of an individual from the same species. We have used these properties, in turn, to address questions about the neural mechanisms whereby frogs recognize and localize signaling frogs and how these behavioral responses have shaped the evolution of the neural mechanism. Our more recent work has focused on an analysis of polyploidy speciation in gray tree frogs. Our research was continuously funded by the National Science Foundation, and I have been the recipient of two prestigious Research Career Development Awards from the National Institutes of Health.
My research accomplishments have been recognized with two Senior Humboldt Awards and a Hanse Wissenschaftkolleg Fellowship. I am elected Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society (ABS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and am the recipient of the Quest Award from the Animal Behavior Society and the Distinguished Herpetologist Award from the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.
In my spare time, I love to be in nature, where I take lots of photos, shoot video, and make audio recordings for a variety of purposes. My work and pleasure have taken me to many countries (Australia is almost a second home), where I have lots of good friends and colleagues.