I am a second year Master of Science candidate in the Department of Biology, with a Bachelor of Science in geology from Brown University. After Brown, I strayed from geology and worked a pair of jobs in the western United States focused on reptiles and amphibians. I wanted to formalize my education in order to pursue my goal of becoming an independent researcher or professor studying these awesome animals. Villanova was a clear top choice for me to pursue a master’s given the Biology department’s standout faculty, funding, and resources. With Drs. Aaron Bauer and Todd Jackman, I have been doing a conservation-focused genetic research project on geckos and skinks in New Caledonia, an island in the South Pacific. Using genetic sequence data, I am determining conservation priorities for species that are likely to be impacted by expanded mining activity on the island. In addition to learning valuable lab techniques and in-depth concepts in evolutionary biology during my time at Villanova, my project has granted me the invaluable opportunity to actually go to New Caledonia to study these lizards. In the fall I begin a PhD program in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA where I will be doing similar conservation-focused genetic research on amphibians of California and the Southwest. The opportunities provided to me by attending Villanova have certainly paid off.