Education and background

Stone Door at Savage Gulf State Park, Tennessee
Photo by Valerie Hotchkiss


I have a BA degree in chemistry and biology and a Ph.D. in biology with a focus on insect ecology and evolution. I have ten years of experience teaching high school in Ohio, Swaziland, and Tennessee, and taught biology at Vanderbilt University from 2000 to 2018.

St. Joseph's High School, Mzimpofu, Swaziland

Former job responsibilities

In 2024 I retired from my position as a Data Science and Data Curation Specialist in the Digital Lab of the Jean & Alexander Heard Libraries of Vanderbilt University.

My work in the Digital Lab involved helping faculty, staff, and students build data skills through workshops, lesson series, individual consulatations, and guest programs in classes. I also worked with librarians across the library system to improve the Libraries’ data infrastructure and to help them build their skills.

You can learn more about some of these efforts through the projects tab.

Working with a student at Vanderbilt
Photo: John Russell/Vanderbilt University

Professional contributions

I am an active participant in the Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) organization. I was formerly a member of the Executive Committee, the chair of the Technical Architecture Group, and convener of the Views Controlled Vocabularies Task Group. I also serve on the Darwin Core Maintenance Group, Audubon Core Maintenance Group, and the Taxon Names and Concepts Maintenance Group. You can learn more about my standards work under the projects tab.

Audubon Core Subtype RDF

I am also actively involved in the Wikimedia community. I am an frequent contributor to Wikidata and participant in the LD4 Wikidata Affinity Group. I’ve developed software to assist users with bulk data uploads, developed instructional materials, and have given several workshops and presentations on this work. To learn more about my work with Wikidata, see the projects tab.

VanderBot cartoon

Personal interests

I enjoy traveling, outdoor activities, and reading. I’m into genealogy and have written two books of family history. Here’s some stats:

  • I’ve traveled to all 50 states plus D.C. and Puerto Rico. I’ve visited 33 countries on 5 continents.
  • I want to visit as many U.S. national parks as possible. So far I’ve been to 47 (75% of them).
  • I’m hoping to eventually observe 1000 species of birds. Currently, I’m up to 923.
  • I’ve recently finished reading all 72 of the winners of the Hugo Award for Best Novel (science fiction or fantasy)
  • In 1988, I was the 41st person to complete Robot Odyssey, which has been called “The Hardest Computer Game of All Time”. After searching for it for over a year, I finally found my certificate – a status symbol among aging techies.

Robot Odyssey certificate