Jeffrey (Jeff) M. Goessling, Ph.D.


  • Ph.D., Biological Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn AL, May 2016

  • B.A., Biology, Thomas More College, Crestview Hills KY, May 2005

  • M.S., Biology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville TX, August 2011


Growing up in the hills of Kentucky, I gained a fascination with and appreciation for nature. From an early age, I knew that I would spend my career studying and conserving wildlife. I obtained my undergraduate degree at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills Kentucky. While at Thomas More, I was fortunate to be mentored by Dr. John Ferner, a herpetologist who still inspires and mentors me. Throughout my undergraduate days, my eyes were opened to the wonder of field ecology research. I gained a diversity of experiences at theThomas More College Center for Ohio River Research and Education, a state-of-the-art field station located on the banks of the Ohio River in northern Kentucky. My experiences at the field station and working for Dr. Chris Lorentz greatly impacted who I am both as a professor and as an advocate for natural resource conservation.

After college, I obtained my MS at Sam Houston State University, under the mentorship of Dr. William Lutterschmidt. While at Sam, I had the opportunity of conducting my master's field work on Aruba, studying ecological dynamics between the critically endangered Aruba island rattlesnake, invasive boa constrictors, and endemic Aruban whiptail lizards (the main prey base for both snake species). While living in Aruba, I was given an internship throughParke Nacional Arikok to support my field research. I am fortunate enough to continue collaborative research on Aruban herpetofauna.

I received my PhD in biological sciences at Auburn University, where I was involved in several projects studying southeastern herpetofauna. For my dissertation, I studied how the environment affects disease susceptibility in gopher tortoises. Following graduation with my PhD, I started a post-doctoral fellowship at Auburn University, where I had dual responsibilities of teaching Biomedical Physiology (BIOL 5600/6600) and research.

While finishing up my PhD I wrote a series of posts that summarize my take on conservation of one of the greatest ecosystems on earth. Feel free to check this out at Living Alongside Wildlife.

In January 2018 I joined the Biology discipline within the Natural Sciences Collegium at Eckerd College. My lab at Eckerd continues to focus our research on both experimental and observational studies of reptile physiological ecology.

In January 2020, I married my lovely wife Peyton, whom I met while we were both working at Auburn University. Since getting married, our home has become a hub for local herp research, and I think Peyton has taken to reptile conservation biology like a gopher to a burrow.

Link to curriculum vitae