Confluence of Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers in beautiful Binghamton, NY.

Herpetologist Highlight

Herpetologist Highlight

Name: Jessica Hua

Age: 31

Website / Twitter Handle / Instagram:

Where do you work? Binghamton University

Position: Assistant Professor 

How did you get there?

Undergraduate: Southwestern University (Biology/Kinesiology) Advisor- Dr. Ben Pierce.

Graduate (PhD): University of Pittsburgh; Advisor- Dr. Rick Relyea

Postdoc: Purdue University; Advisor- Dr. Jason Hoverman

Was there any particular hardship that you had to overcome to work in your position? I feel very fortunate to be in the position that I am in. I entered into undergraduate studies primarily for sports (I played basketball). I chose my major (biology) because I thought being a medical doctor was the only career path. Part of the medical path was to obtain research experience. As a Junior, I attempted to find a medical-related research position but compared to my peers, I was slower to apply. As a result, the only position left (lucky for me) was a position with Dr. Ben Pierce examining the effects of salinity on amphibians. I had never even seen an amphibian outside of the zoo prior to this experience! Truly all I cared about prior to this experience was med school and basketball- yet Ben still gave me a chance! Needless to say, this research experience changed my career path. After graduating from Southwestern, I pursued a PhD with Dr. Rick Relyea examining the effects of contaminants on amphibians. This experience opened the doors to a lot of different research directions for me and is when I became an HL member for the first time. After graduating with my PhD, I did my post doc with Dr. Jason Hoverman at Purdue University on amphibian disease ecology. Now I am an assistant professor at Binghamton University hoping to introduce students here in NY to herpetology and continuing the legacy my former advisors started by mentoring future herpetologists!

What advice do you give to someone interested in your profession? What advice might you have for someone from an underrepresented group who is interested in entering your field? For someone inside and outside of underrepresented groups interested in my profession, my biggest piece of advice is to stay open, curious, and relentless in pursuing your goal. As a researcher/professor, I feel like I have the best job in the world! Every day is unique! In one day, I could be in my office in the morning then out catching herps later that night! I get to interact with incredible people and ask questions that excite me. 

What’s your favorite herp?

I have got two favorites: Wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum)!

Why are you an HL member?

I am a herpetologist, I care about the conservation of amphibians, and I enjoy attending the meetings and catching up with colleagues from around the world!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Is there a good caption for your attached photograph?

Confluence of Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers in beautiful Binghamton, NY.

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