Bob is one of our DNA Day 2016 experts.
Tell us about yourself
I was born in California but now reside in Ontario Canada where I work as an Associate Professor at the University of Guelph's Biodiversity Institute of Ontario. I enjoy being outdoors and exploring the surface of the planet whenever I can. I also enjoy cooking healthy meals from scratch to share with family and friends.
What is your research about?
I use DNA-based tools to identify species. We use them for many applications in both basic and applied research. My work has a special focus on using these tools to support Food Security. For example, we can identify agricultural pests and invasive species as eggs or larvae with DNA-based methods, which would be challenging to do with morphology. We also use DNA-based methods to identify foods and to detect food fraud.
What have you enjoyed the most about your research?
I most enjoy creating opportunities for students to engage in research and conducting community-engaged research, particularly with conservation organizations.
What have you found most challenging about your research?
Finding funding to support research is one of the biggest challenges scientists face, particularly when studying biodiversity.
How has your research experience influenced your career path?
As a tenured professor, I am in research for the long haul.
How has your research impacted the world?
Government agencies are now using our tools to combat food fraud and conduct environmental surveillance.
What do you predict will be the next big breakthrough in your field of research?
Remote sensing of biodiversity through the detection of environmental DNA.
What motivates you to do research?
My university professors had a profound impact on my desire to engage in research. They helped me understand the beauty of evolutionary biology and the study of biodiversity.
Tell us about your 'Eureka' moment
I'm always learning new things, particularly from my students who are working in the lab and have used DNA data to detect new species.