[Bristol-Birds] Chris O'Bryan motivated by meeting of ichthyologists and herpetologists

  • From: "Wallace Coffey" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Bristol-birds" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 31 Jul 2009 00:29:55 -0400

Chris O'Bryan, returned Wednesday from nine days in Portland, Oregon where he 
attended the international 2009 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and 

He reported that 11,000 biologists from many countries attended the event.  
Chris was pleased with the experience and says it helped him meet and spend 
personal time with outstanding researchers.  It was inspirational as well as 
let him get a first-hand and up-close look at significant world-class 
researchers and their work.

During the week, he sat in on an estimated 15 paper presentations each day.  

He especially enjoyed meeting Carl H. Ernst, author of Turtles of the United 
States and Canada. Dr. Ernst, professor emeritus at George Mason University and 
a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, is author of Venomous 
Reptiles of North America. Jeffrey E. Lovich and Ernst were coauthors, with 
Roger W. Barbour, of the previous edition of Turtles of the United States and 
Canada.  Ernst is also the author of Turtles of the World.  

Chris' most successful networking was with graduate students Will Clark from 
North Dakota State University and Mark Davis from the University of Illinois . 
In turn they introduced him to Robert Weaver and his research assistant, both 
from Washington State University. Chris said he especially benefited from long 
evenings of research discussions that sometime did not end until 3 a.m.

Saturday night was spent on a field trip to the Columbia River Gorge on the 
Washington side in Klickitat County, where Chris and the graduate students 
caught Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes, Northwestern Gartersnakes, Desert Night 
Snakes, and a Pacific Treefrog. 

He met up with undergraduate student Bree Putman, from the California 
Polytechnic School. The spent an afternoon together and Putman gave Chris an 
extra ticket for the Monday night Joint Meeting Banquet.  There he met some of 
the best young herpetologists around, including Steve Beaupre from the 
University of Arkansas, Xavier Bonnet a French herpetologist who is a 
collaborator with the Department of Biology at the University of Sydney, and 
Emily Taylor from California Polytechnic Institute. 
He enjoyed meeting Dr. Betsie Rothermel, assistant research biologist in 
restoration ecology and herpetology from the famous Archbold Biological Station 
in Florida.  She is a graduate of Cornell University (BS), Penn State 
University (MS) and the University of Missouri (Ph.D).  They went to an Asian 
restaurant for lunch and talked about research opportunities at the Archbold 
station.  Rothermel has had well over a million dollars in grants and research 

Chris said the graduate students helped him get a better feel for the workings 
of graduate programs as well as to assist him in how to identify future 
undergraduate research projects.  Some of them have had significant success 
with undergraduate research publishing.

The bird life was also worth mentioning.  Chris added to his life list when he 
met another birder and they were able to find Pigeon Guillemots, Common Murres, 
Brown Pelicans, Black Oyster Catchers, Rhinoceros Auklets, Western Gulls, and 
Pelagic Cormorants. They also saw a colony of sea lions basking on the banks of 
an islands. 

His trip was partially funded by Austin Peay State University at Clarksville 
where he is an Undergraduate Research Assistant, Department of Biology and the 
Center for Field Biology.  He will enter his junior year this fall.

Let's go birding . . . .

Wallace Coffey
Bristol, TN

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