Obsessio competitionis lucrum, non morbum est
Welcome to my world. One filled with an obsession for venom. A passion I use as my fuel for scientific discovery. It is a life spent living and working with snakes. Lots of very, very toxic snakes and a myriad of other venomous creatures. Everything from the Malaysian king cobra to deadly scorpions. I am passionate about venomous animals, in all their glorious shapes and sizes. When asked what it’s like to live my childhood dream of working with these animals I like to quote from Calvin & Hobbes “‘I am obeying the inscrutable exhortations of my inner-most soul, and my mandate also includes weird bugs’.
Here is a downloadable example of our work. In this clip we are milking an over 4 meter long king cobra. Who was determined to come out of the bag. There was not enough friction to restrain him so out he came. But as always, we adapted while keeping calm. Our motto is that any idiot can provoke an animal into a defensive display and scream about how dangerous it is, but that it takes a lot more skill to keep it calm. This is not only safer for us but also in line with animal ethics best practice.
I graduated from the Portland State University Honours Program with a dual degree in Molecular Biology (BSc) and Scientific Philosophy (BA), with a minor in Psychology (BA) in 1995. I then completed a PhD from the University of Queensland in 2002 on the toxic natriuretic peptides present in taipan venoms, I am now an associate professor at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland where I am group leader of the Venom Evolution Laboratory.
I have conducted field research in over 40 countries, from Norway to Antarctica and all points in between ranging from the Amazon basin to the Sindh desert of Pakistan. The field work is hazardous and things don't always go according to plan. But the perseverance in the scientific quests in the face of such obstacles has led to me being inducted into the elite adventurer society The Explorers Club.
My papers have been published in leading scientific journals such as Nature. In the popular press I have been featured nearly 100 documentaries on channels such as Animal Planet, BBC, Discovery Channel and National Geographic TV and written about in Wired, Cosmos, National Geographic in addition to numerous newspapers.
Both of these books are infused with my passion for learning more about these toxic creatures I find so amazing.