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Graduate Students

Ann-Elizabeth Nash

AE Nash

Ann-Elizabeth (AE) Nash is originally from Buffalo, NY, and earned her B.S. from Rochester Institute of Technology. She moved to Colorado to escape snow and enjoy sunshine. As a doctoral candidate, Nash studies animal social groups, specifically the Spiny-tailed Iguanas, Ctenosaura similis in Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica. Her research combines molecular ecology, animal personality, and social network analysis to understand the characteristics and consequences of the social structure of C. similis, a long-lived, oviparous lizard with high site fidelity. Future research plans include how social position affects mating success and fitness as well as cognition. Nash is interested in the conservation and welfare of reptiles and amphibians in captivity and in the wild. In addition to her research, Nash runs Colorado Reptile Humane Society. She shares her home with reptiles and mammals, and enjoys trying new restaurants and travel.

Tanner Harvey is originally from the east coast and earned his undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from Bowdoin College in Maine. He has always been fascinated by venomous snakes and the toxinology of venoms.  He is pursuing a Ph. D. in Biological Sciences and is isolating specific proteins from crude snake venom to evaluate their toxicity and mechanisms of action.  In the future he plans to pursue a career studying the pharmacological applications of biotoxins and he hopes that the potential for biomedical development of venom toxins will help motivate the protection of venomous species worldwide.  When not studying or in the lab he enjoys rock climbing, hiking mountains, and exploring new places.

Tanner Harvey

 Tanner Harvey

Graham Dawson

 Graham Dawson

Graham Dawson was a Masters student in Biological Sciences at UNC. He is originally from Denver, Colorado and received his undergraduate degree in Biology, with a focus on ecology, evolution, and behavior, from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. He is primarily interested in the social behavior of rattlesnakes and is interested in investigating possible social networks and whether they show kin recognition. After completing his Masters in spring 2018, he is working for an environmental consulting firm. Outside of the lab he enjoys brewing his own beer, running, biking and hiking.

Emily Grabowsky received her Master’s degree in Biological Sciences at UNC in 2018 and was awarded the Graduate Dean’s Citation for Outstanding Thesis. She was born in New Jersey, but has spent most of her life in Colorado. After graduating with her Bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University, she moved to Arizona to study herpetofauna and adventure around the desert before starting graduate school. Although she has been able to work with many species, from horses to hyenas to tortoises, her time in Arizona helped her narrow down interests. She studied the venom composition and ecology of the tiny, mountain dwelling snake, the Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (Crotalus pricei). With this experience, she hopes to one day attain a career as a wildlife biologist and continue research that will aid managers in developing conservation plans for wildlife (especially reptiles!). Her other interests are very broad, but her favorite extracurricular activities always include some sort of outdoor adventure (hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, backpacking) with her dog.

Emily Grabowsky

Emily Grabowsky

Cara F. Smith

Cara & Bullsnake

Cara Smith is originally from Virginia and earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry from the College of William and Mary. She is now a PhD student studying sources of venom variation in the Western Rattlesnake complex (Crotalus viridis/oreganus). Cara also curates the reptile and amphibian collections in the Natural History Museum at UNC. In the future, she plans to continue investigating the sources and consequences of toxin variability in venomous creatures and to become a curator of vertebrate zoology. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the desert, backpacking, and baking.

Neil Balchan is a Master’s student in the Venom Analysis Lab and is originally from Winnipeg, Canada. Neil studies venom resistance at the community level, at study sites where the Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) and Desert Massasauga (Sistrurus tergeminus edwardsii) interact with an array of rodent prey species in eastern Colorado. In the future, Neil plans to pursue a career in academia, with strong interests in venomous snake systematics and venom variation. In his free time, Neil can be found field herping, practicing falconry, travelling, and exploring the great outdoors.

Neil Balchan

Neil and Desert Massasauga