The courses and workshops in field biology at the Highlands Biological Station are taught by a diverse, talented and dedicated group of academics and professionals from around the country.  The Station is very fortunate to have such a strong pool of instructors from which to draw upon each summer, and we thank them for the huge amount of effort that each puts in to their course.  Below are brief biographies of those who have taught in the last two years and who will be teaching in the summer of 2014.


J.J. Apodaca (2014)

J.J. Apodaca is a professor of conservation biology at Warren Wilson College. His research interests include combining genetics techniques with spatial ecology to inform the management of imperiled species and using geographic information systems (GIS) to identify priority areas for the conservation of amphibians and reptiles.


Indrani Bose

Indrani Bose is an associate professor in the Department of Biology at Western Carolina University where she teaches Genetics, Cell Biology, and Molecular Biology. She received her Ph. D from Duke University investigating the role of the cell cycle on changes in cell shape in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.  She currently works on the genetics of virulence and chromosome segregation in the basidiomycetous yeast Cryptococcus neoformans and the mushroom, Coprinopsis cinerea.


Brian Byrd (2014)

Brian Byrd is an assistant professor in the environmental health sciences program at Western Carolina University where he teaches classes in medical entomology, etiology of infectious diseases, and epidemiology.   He earned his B.A. (Biology) from UNC-Asheville, and his M.S. /Ph.D. (Parasitology/Medical Entomology) from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. During his doctoral studies, Brian was supported by a Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Training Fellowship funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Brian now focuses most of his research efforts on La Crosse encephalitis, a mosquito-borne disease found in western North Carolina. (


Mollie Cashner (2014)

Dr. Mollie Cashner is an Assistant Professor at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. Her research focus is on the evolution of reproductive behavior, phylogenetics, and population genetics of North American fishes. She received her Ph.D. from Tulane University in 2010 investigating the evolution of nest association in North American minnows, and is currently working on a number of behavioral and population genetics projects with native North American fishes. She has been involved with HBS for nearly 10 years and eagerly looks forward to talking about, catching fishes in, and generally spending time in the mountain streams of western North Carolina.


Kefyn Catley (2015)

Dr. Kefyn M. Catley is a professor of biology at Western Carolina University where he teaches classes in arthropod biology and invertebrate zoology. He holds a PhD in arthropod systematics from Cornell University and was previously a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History, New York  and has studied spider biodiversity and evolution on four continents. He directs the secondary science education program at WCU and works with pre and in-service science teachers in the WNC region and across the nation. His research revolves around issues of understanding macroevolution in the classroom, in particular the role of diagrammatic reasoning and tree thinking in providing a conceptual framework for understanding evolutionary patterns and processes across time and space.


Paul Davison (2015)

Paul G. Davison, Ph.D. in Botany 1993, is a field bryologist by training and a Professor of Biology at the University of North Alabama.  He specializes in the floristics of liverworts and is a member of the Tennessee Rare Plant Scientific Advisory Committee.  Over the past few years he has become interested in bryophilous fungi and bryophyte-related microinvertebrates.  His service to the American Bryological and Lichenological Society includes Associate Editor for The Bryologist (1997-2000) and Director of the Hepatic Exchange (2003-present).


Stephanie Jeffries (2015)

Steph Jeffries is a naturalist at heart and a forest ecologist by training. Currently a teaching assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at NC State, she also serves on the faculty at the NC Botanical Garden. She has a Ph.D. in Forestry from NC State and a B.S. in marine science from University of South Carolina. Steph has taught students of all ages and backgrounds in a variety of settings, including NC State, Duke University, the Duke Marine Lab, and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. She was a student in the 1999 Forest Ecosystems class and has been a co-instructor since 2005. Steph recently co-authored a book with Tom Wentworth, Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests: An Ecological Guide to 30 Great hikes in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia, and loves sharing her passion for ecology and the natural world with people of all ages.


Karen Kandl (2013)

Karen Kandl is the associate director of Highlands Biological Station.  She grew up in Illinois and Indiana and holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Knox College in Galesburg, IL and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Georgia.  Karen’s areas of interest include conservation genetics, particularly of fishes and freshwater mussels, and science education.  She taught in the biology departments at the University of New Orleans and at Western Carolina University before coming to HBS.


Kenneth Kozak (2014)

Dr. Kenneth Kozak, University of Minnesota.


Nancy Lowe (2013)

Nancy Lowe studied video and other time arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was a mover and shaker in independent media and media democracy.  For the last fifteen years, she has focused on art and science collaborations. She has catalyzed, curated, and secured funding for art and science collaborations… for museums, libraries, universities, meetings of academic professional organizations, and other venues. Her works of art about evolutionary biology have been exhibited in many galleries in the US and Europe. To encourage students to become better observers of natural history, she has taught scientific illustration and nature journaling at biological field stations, universities, museums and other institutions in the US and Costa Rica; she has also served as an arts integration teacher in public and private K-12 schools. She is a scientific illustrator and photographer specializing in insects, plants, and fungi. She has worked in several research labs on pollination biology, and microbial symbionts of insects, and large-scale ecology.


Paul Manos (2015)

Paul Manos, Ph.D., is Jack H. Neely Professor and Associate Chair of Biology at Duke University. He has been teaching at the Highlands Biological Station since 2003. He also brings undergraduate and master’s-level students to the station as a component of plant community and biodiversity classes offered at Duke. Dr. Manos’ research interests include biogeography, genetics and evolution.  He specializes in the study of woody plants, in particular the oak family and their relatives.


Brent Martin (2015)

Brent Martin is a lifetime writer, educator, and conservationist, and lives in the Cowee community of western North Carolina.  During his career in conservation he has worked for the Armuchee Alliance, Georgia Forestwatch, the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, and The Wilderness Society, where he currently serves as Southern Appalachian Regional Director in Sylva, NC.  He as an M.A. and A.B.D in History from Georgia State University, and is the author of three chapbook collections of poetry, Poems from Snow Hill Road, A Shout in the Woods, and Every Breath Sings Mountains, which he co-authored with writers Thomas Rain Crowe and Barbara Duncan.   His poetry and essays have been published in the North Carolina Literary Review, Pisgah Review, Tar River Poetry, Chattahoochee Review, Eno Journal, New Southerner, Kudzu Review, Smoky Mountain News, and elsewhere.


Thomas Martin (2013)

Dr. Thomas H. Martin is an associate professor of biology at Western Carolina University where he teaches classes in aquatic ecology, fisheries, and biostatistics.  He holds a PhD from North Carolina State University, and has previous research and teaching experience at the Center for Limnology, UW-Madison, Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, and the Penn StateSchool of Forest Resources.  He has research interests in aquatic population and conservation ecology.


Larry Mellichamp (2015)

Dr. Larry Mellichamp  is a Professor of Botany and Horticulture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he has taught for over 38 years. He is also director of the University’s Botanical Gardens which has 10 acres of outdoor gardens including many native plants. The new Mellichamp Natives Terrace Garden demonstrates the use of natives directly for the homeowner. Larry is an expert on native trees and shrubs, and also studies carnivorous plants, especially Sarracenia pitcher plants.

He has written many technical and popular articles on plants and gardening, and has co-authored five books: including “The Winter Garden” (1997); “Wildflowers of the Western Great Lakes Region” (999); “Bizarre Botanicals” with Paula Gross (2010), and most recently (2014), “Native Plants of the Southeast (and their garden uses)”. He has traveled extensively in the eastern United States and across the continent, and has made trips to photograph unusual plants in Costa Rica, South Africa, Borneo, southern Europe, China, and Australia.


John Morse (2015)

Dr. John C. Morse is a Professor Emeritus of Entomology at Clemson University (Clemson, South Carolina) and Director Emeritus of the Clemson University Arthropod Collection. Besides courses in insect systematics, insect larvae, and a variety of other topics, he has taught courses related to aquatic insects at Clemson, at Highlands Biological Station, and in 9 countries in Asia and Europe for more than 40 years. His research specialty is the identification, biology, and historical development of caddisflies, which he has studied in many streams of the world since 1967. Dr. Morse and his students also investigate the identification, biology, and distribution of other aquatic insects, of stream ecology and conservation, and of the use of insect communities to monitor water pollution.


Joseph Pechmann (2014)

Dr. Joseph Pechmann, Western Carolina University.


Lore Ruttan (2015)

Lore Ruttan is an Atlanta based scientist, artist and illustrator. Her work has been shown at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta and the Telfair Museum in Savannah among other places and she has created commissioned art for clients in the United States and Europe. Her most recent undertaking was illustrating a children’s book. Lore works in a traditional botanical style that prioritizes detail and scientific accuracy but with a contemporary sensibility. Prior to starting her business as an illustrator, she taught in the Environmental Studies Department at Emory University for nine years. Her training includes a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California at Davis, a certificate in Botanical Drawing from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, as well as coursework in the nationally acclaimed Program in Natural Science Illustration at the University of California, Santa Cruz (now at CSU Monterrey).


Ray Semlitsch (2013)

Dr. Ray Semlitsch received a Ph.D. at the University of Georgia in 1984. He was a post-doctoral Research Associate at Duke University and is currently a Curators’ Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri. He has been a leader in amphibian ecology and the conservation of wetlands for >30 years. He has published several books, including Amphibian Conservation by Smithsonian Press, 25 book chapters and newsletter articles, and >200 scientific journal papers concerning the ecology of amphibians and other semi-aquatic species. His current research is focused on understanding the behavior of juvenile dispersal, habitat resistance and connectivity, and source-sink dynamics of pond-breeding species. In 1999, he was presented the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity from the University of Missouri, the National Wetlands Award for Science Research from The Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C in 2008, and the Henry Fitch Award for Excellence in Herpetology in 2011.


Julie Tuttle (2013)

Julie Tuttle is a biogeographer and ecologist whose research focuses on forests of the Great Smoky Mountains.  She holds a B.S. from Southern Methodist University and an M.S. from the University of Georgia, and she will complete her Ph.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill in Summer 2013.  She is currently a postdoctoral teaching fellow in the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University, teaching a first-year writing course on the Ecology of Species Migrations.  She has taught field methods in physical geography as well as labs in ecology and evolution, geographic information systems, and remote sensing.


Alan Weakley (2015)

Alan Weakley is a plant taxonomist, community ecologist, and conservationist specializing in the flora and vegetation types of the Southeastern United States.  He holds a B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. from Duke University.  He has worked as botanist and ecologist for the N.C. Natural Heritage Program, and regional and chief ecologist for The Nature Conservancy and NatureServe.  He is currently Director of the UNC Herbarium, a department of the NC Botanical Garden, and teaches as adjunct faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Alan is a co-author of the Flora of Virginia and the Flora of the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic States.  He is also active with the Flora of North America project and the United States National Vegetation Classification, is a Trustee of the North Carolina Natural Heritage Trust Fund, and is a co-founder of the Carolina Vegetation Survey.


Peter White (2013)

Peter S. White completed his BA at Bennington College (1971) and his PhD, in plant ecology, at Dartmouth College (1976).  After a year as Assistant Professor at Dartmouth, he became a NEA Postdoctoral Fellow at the Missouri Botanical Garden (1977-1978) after which he was appointed a Research Biologist with the National Park Service at the Uplands Field Research Lab in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  In 1982 he became the first director of the Cooperative Park Studies Unit at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  He moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986 to the position of Professor in Biology and Director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, a conservation-focused garden.  The author of several influential papers on disturbance ecology, he has also worked widely in other areas of ecology, often with a conservation focus.  He is currently the editor of the Journal of Vegetation Science, a member of the Board of the Center for Plant Conservation, a member of the Board of the North Carolina Plant Conservation Program, and Chair of Discover Life in America (which supports the all species inventory in Great Smoky Mountains National Park).  As part of the North Carolina Botanical Garden’s focus on the conservation garden, he is involved in international efforts to reduce the use of invasive pest plants in horticulture.  He received a First Prize for Natural History Books, 1998 Excellence in Interpretation competition, National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior, for Wildflowers of the Smokies.