I am the new Assistant Curator of Herpetology at the Virginia Museum of Natural History and I really likes snakes! Broadly, I am interested in using population genomics, speciation, and community ecology to understand species- and community-level resilience to our changing world. At the moment I am exploring these evolutionary topics using squamates and amphibians from Africa and adjacent islands, thePacific northwest, and southwest US.

25 thoughts on “

  1. Arianna,

    Great lecture today at the discovery center! Now my daughter hasn’t been able to stop talking about becoming a field researcher. I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the passion you have for your work. That, in combination with your friendly attitude and demeanor, is what caught her attention. Thank you again.



    1. Thank you so much for your kind feedback! I am very lucky to have opportunities through the AMNH to share my research with young scientists. If your daughter ever has any questions about my job or the museum, please feel free to forward them – there are many great opportunities for science/research-oriented kids (even at young ages) through the museum’s youth initiative programs, let me know if you have any questions!



      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, that’s great to know. I’d like to hear where I can keep track of these opportunities, she loves going to events like the ones at the discovery center! She did want to see more of what happens everyday in your profession. Is there a place we can view your work (and maybe others) on the daily while your getting dirty in the field?


  2. My son loved your discovery center lecture on Saturday. He loves the discovery center and animals and wants to be a zookeeper when he grows up but maybe more meet the scientists will move him toward being a scientist.


    1. I have always been fascinated by wild animals interacting with their natural environments, including snakes! The more I learn about snakes and their behavior, the more I understand how to give them space and respect so they don’t feel threatened. I also make sure to be aware of what venomous species may be in the places I work, and how to correctly identify them.


    1. I the beginning, I didn’t know as much about finding snakes or how to successfully catch them. While I was never afraid of them, the more time i spent outside working with these animals, the easier it became to find them, identify them, and handle them safely.


    1. I really love snakes! I am constantly finding out new things about them that amaze me every day. For example, did you know that boas and pythons (for example, a ball python!) have tiny “pelvic spurs” that are remnants from a time when snakes actually had LEGS?!


    1. When I first started doing herpetology, several of my advisors, lab mates, graduate mentors and science friends were very encouraging and welcoming. These individuals taught me a lot about writing, doing great science, finding reptiles and amphibians in the field, and being a part of a larger inclusive community — and helped me understand that anyone with any background can be a herpetologist! Because I felt accepted and supported, I was able to explore this field and find the exact research questions that I am most curious about.


    1. I like everything about herpetology! One of my favorite parts of herpetology is it includes the study of both amphibians (like frogs and salamanders) and also reptiles (like snakes and geckos). Amphibians and reptiles are not actually closely related, but do share the characteristic of being ectotherms (cold-blooded). Herpetology lets me study BOTH groups of these animals that I really love, and that is a bonus for me!


    1. I actually started my career working on very cool geckos from Africa, and I still love geckos a lot! Snakes are particularly special to me because they are often misunderstood or feared. I enjoy helping people learn more about snakes so they can respect, understand and appreciate this important group of reptiles!


    1. Snakes only have one heart, just like a human! One interesting aspect of snake internal anatomy, however, is that snakes have two lungs: one lung is very very long (just like a snake!) and the other is very very short.


    1. There are several parts of my job that I find especially fascinating. First, I love to go out into nature to observe and study wild reptiles and snakes (this is called ‘field work’). Secondly, I get to think about questions about reptiles and amphibians that I don’t know the answer to, and figure out ways to answer these questions (this is called ‘research’). Lastly, I get to do this field work and research with a group of scientists that are respectful, curious, and fun!


    1. My advice for folks who feel afraid of reptiles is to learn about them and give them space! The more information you can gather about a particular animal, the more you will know where and when to expect an encounter, and what species can be found in a particular area. Most reptiles are happy to leave you alone if you also give them space and leave them alone so they feel safe and don’t mistake you for a dangerous predator. Reptiles are fascinating but often delicate animals, and I am always excited by changes to observe them in the wild without disturbing them!


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