Currently, I am a PhD candidate under the guidance of Dr. Brian Bowen at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology where I am studying evolutionary patterns of reef fish. I am fortunate to have been awarded two highly competitive awards to help support me while I am in graduate school: the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship offered through the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (NOAA).
I grew up as an Air Force brat and lived and visited many parts of the world during my adolescence. I was born in California but my childhood was primarily spent in South Dakota and Japan before my family finally settled back in California. I come from a mutlicultural background (father is African-American and mother is Filipina) and I am the youngest of 4 boys. My middle school to teenage years were spent growing up in a poor neighborhood where gangs, drugs, and violence were the norm. I was fortunate enough to stay true to my convictions and never went down the dark path that many of the other kids in the neighborhood went down.
After graduating high school I found myself working in the financial world for about 7 years as a Consumer Loan Officer. In this position I was responsible for approving (or denying) loans and determining the amount applicants qualified for. Although I enjoyed my job, and become wiz at analyzing credit reports and determining loan eligibility, the corporate environment did not fulfill my childhood desire to work in the natural world and make contributions beyond an individual level. Thus I began pursuing a career as a marine scientist. I worked my way through the community college system and eventually transferred to San Francisco State University where i earned my B.S in Marine Biology and Limnology. I am the first and only person in my immediate family to receive a college degree making earning my bachelors degree quite a milestone not just for myself.
My time at SFSU and its marine research station, the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, was my first exposure to real world research and my experience there was vital to my progression as a scientist. Working in the evolution/ecology lab of Dr. C. Sarah Cohen exposed me to the utility of molecular techniques and became the foundation for my path towards becoming an Evolutionary Biologist. I eventually made my way into the lab of Dr. Brian Bowen who shares a joint lab with Dr. Robert Toonen which is conveniently known as the ToBo Lab. My experience thus far has been very rewarding and has provided me with many skills and experiences to set me for the next stage of my career.
general interests and life philosophy
Besides research my interests include most outdoors related activities (hiking, diving, camping), traveling (still need to make it to Europe!), and cooking (I’m a vegetarian). I make an effort to minimize the amount of waste I generate and try my best to reduce the suffering of all sentient beings. For exercise, I spend a good amount of time running. I ran my first 10K recently and I am slowly making my way up to running a half marathon. A full marathon sounds like torture.
My general philosophy of life, and something my friends get a kick out of whenever I say it, is"you do you", The idea behind this is that as long as what you are doing is not impacting anyone else negatively, continue doing what you are doing. Embedded in that idea is not worrying or comparing yourself to what other people are doing. Everyoneʻs situation is different whether its for better or worse. Living life comparing yourself to the next person is pointless in my eyes and it is an unfair metric that you establish for both yourself and the other person. Additionally, I take personal accountability for every action I do. I also make it a point to find joy in everything. You will find me laughing during the most random of situations. I find that there is no point stressing about something out of my control. If it is in my control, then I will make every effort to address it. I am not one to sit around and wait for someone else to figure out what my next steps should be. I have found that this "look on the bright side" and "address it head on" attitude has greatly reduced any stress that I might have and has created a very easy going perspective on life.