Rebecca holds BS of Zoology and MS of Biology degrees from Auburn University. She completed her PhD in Entomology at the University of California, Davis. Her main research interests include the phylogenetics, taxonomy, and systematics of trapdoor spiders. She recently published a revision of the trapdoor genus Ummidia in which she described around 30 new species from across North, Central, and South America.
Currently, Rebecca is an Assistant Professor in the Natural Sciences Department at Piedmont University where she teaches introductory biology courses as well as genetics and invertebrate zoology.
Rebecca has a true passion for effectively communicating science both with students in the classroom as well as with the public and believes that effective science communication at all levels and societal science literacy are crucial to create an informed society. She has volunteered with Black Belt Environmental Science and Arts Program (BBESAP) and the Louis Kreher Arboretum doing outdoor education for children as well as with conservation groups like the Alabama Plant Conservation Alliance (APCA).
Rebecca loves being outdoors, hiking, camping and, yes, looking for spiders! She also loves getting her students and members of her community outside to appreciate all the beauty and enriching experiences that can be had in outdoor spaces. She grew up taking regular camping and hiking trips with her family to the Smoky Mountains and other natural areas. Her father taught her the importance of “walking quietly in the woods” in order to truly appreciate the natural world around her. In college one of her professors, Dr. Debbie Folkerts, stirred her interest in natural history, education and outreach, and conservation.
As a member of the Board, Rebecca is excited to become a part of an organization that values both preserving undeveloped natural spaces as well as working with groups to make enriching and engaging outdoor spaces for local communities. She lives with her husband, cats, and tortoise (and possibly a spider or two) in Habersham County, where she spends as much time enjoying the outdoors as possible