Sam graduated from Texas Tech University with a B.S. in Zoology. While he was an undergraduate student, Sam was an undergraduate research assistant and had internships working with animals at the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, TX, and South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Lubbock, TX.
Upon graduation from Texas Tech, Sam traveled to Zimbabwe for an internship at the game ranch Cawston Block. He was able to witness first-hand Southern African wildlife and the implications it has on the locals. While he was there, Sam partook in two annual population counts as well as ongoing studies such as a leopard spoor survey, a carnivore study where they used game cameras to identify and determine the distribution of carnivores within the property boundaries, and an ongoing record of the natural deaths of animals found on routine patrols. From this experience, he was able to gain insight on the intricacies of management of African plains game.
Sam is currently working towards his PhD in the Derr lab. In the lab, he has learned ways to extract DNA and genotype individuals in order to look for domestic cattle introgression and parentage testing. He will be working on projects that will include population and conservation genetics studies involving the North American Bison. He is really excited to have this chance to help one of the most iconic mammals in a struggle to reclaim the abundance they once had. During his time here, Sam plans on helping discover ways to advance conservation efforts of bison and any other species that he’ll work on.