“My lab is full of colleagues. Some are grad students, some are undergraduates, we differ only in experience.” Terry Wheeler

David A. Steen, Ph.D.

As of 2018, I am a Research Ecologist at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Previously, I was an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn University. I received my Ph.D. from Auburn University (2011), my M.S. from the State University of New York-College of Environmental Science and Forestry (2003) and my B.S. from the University of New Hampshire (2001). I also completed a postdoctoral appointment at Virginia Tech (2012-2013).

To meet the Georgia Sea Turtle Center crew, please visit this link.

Auburn University personnel (below). Although I am no longer at Auburn University, my students are completing their graduate degrees there and I remain involved in the completion of their work.


Spring 2017 (L to R): Chad Wallwork, David Steen, Joseph Jenkins (kneeling), Sara Piccolomini, Justin Haynes, and Phil Pearson (kneeling)

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2017 Conecuh National Forest Field Crew (L to R): Kelly O’Connor, Jasmine Parham, and Krystof Chmel


Justin Haynes, MS Graduate Student

I received my B.S. from Birmingham-Southern College in 2015, where I majored in biology and minored in psychology. As an undergraduate at BSC, I conducted research on the amphibian chytrid fungus and its prevalence in the Birmingham, Alabama, area under the guidance of Dr. Megan Gibbons. For my master’s thesis, I am studying the efficacy of detector dog usage in locating Eastern Indigo Snakes in South Florida. I have always been very interested in conservation and ecology, especially in the Southeast, and my favorite taxa to work with are amphibians and reptiles. I enjoy both field and laboratory work related to these animals and their ecological interactions, and I strongly believe in the importance of communication and education through works of science.

Joseph Jenkins, MS Graduate Student

I am studying the habits and status of the Flattened Musk Turtle in Bankhead National Forest. I received my B.S. in Zoology and my Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering at Auburn University (2016). In addition to my undergrad studies, I have spent the past four years conducting field research on the Flattened Musk Turtle and the Black Warrior Waterdog salamander with the Alabama Natural Heritage Program. I am best described as a field herpetologist and herpetoculturist with an interest in ecology and an obsession for conservation, especially of rare and endangered species. I am an amateur mead maker and avid outdoorsman.

Sara Piccolomini, MS Graduate Student

I am studying the reintroduction of Eastern Indigo Snakes to Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve for my thesis. My research interests are in population and community ecology, conservation, and physiological ecology of rare and imperiled amphibians and reptiles. I received my B.A. from Hiram College (2014) in Environmental Studies. I have spent the last year helping to assess the status of endangered species like the Black Warrior Waterdog, Eastern Hellbender, and Gopher Tortoise in Alabama while working for the Alabama Natural Heritage Program and the Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander at Eglin Air Force Base while working for Virginia Tech/Jackson Guard. Through these experiences I have developed a deep passion to help protect the rare and endangered species of the southeast. I spend my free time hanging out with my dog.

Phil Pearson, Lab Manager

I received my Bachelor of Science in biology and Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and my Masters of Science in Biological Sciences from Auburn University under Dr. Dan Warner. My research interests revolve around reptile evolutionary ecology, developmental plasticity, thermal adaptations to climate change, and maternal effects specifically the effects of changing of phenology and thermal developmental environment have on organisms. My Master’s research focused on how seasonal variation in incubation temperature affects the phenotype and fitness in the brown anole lizard.

Chad Wallwork, Undergraduate Researcher



Hunter Walters, Research Technician (2016)

Maude Dinan, Undergraduate Researcher (2015)

Sierra Stiles, Research Technician (2014-2016)

Jimmy Stiles, Research Technician (2014-2016)

Evan Buck, Research Technician (2015)

Joni Wilson, Undergraduate Researcher (2015)

Charlotte Musser, Undergraduate Researcher (2014-2015)