BIO: Allen Dray

From: fadray (
Date: Tue Aug 06 2002 - 12:50:07 EDT

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    Hi all!

    I have been quietly lurking for the past several years and was
    emboldened by Terry and Doug's invite, so here goes.

    NAME: Allen Dray

    AGE: 45

    VOCATION: Ecologist - I work in the field of biological control of
    weeds, trying to lessen deleterious impacts of invasive plants in the

    EDUCATION: BSc in Marine Biology (1979, University of Tampa), MSc in
    Zoology with emphasis on Aquatic Ecology (1986, university of Vermont),
    currently finishing up a PhD in Biology with emphasis on the population
    ecology of plants (Dec 2002?, Florida International University)

    VOCATIONAL BACKGROUND: After receiving my BSc in 1979, I worked a couple
    of years for an environmental consultant. We primarily conducted
    environmental impact assessments, and I became their oligochaete
    taxonomist. This carried into my Master's thesis which described, for
    the first time, the penchant of some Naididae (an aquatic family of
    worms) to launch themselves into the water column much as stonefly and
    mayfly nymphs. This behavior was associated with high benthic
    population densities and most worms in the drift were in the process of
    asexual reproduction via budding. I then moved back to Florida, where I
    joined a team of scientists working to control invasive exotic weeds by
    releasing host-specific insects from the plants native ranges. Thus when
    I decided to return to school to pursue my PhD, I chose to work on a
    problem related to my job. My dissertation investigates the population
    ecology of Melaleuca quinquenervia (an Australian invader of Florida's
    Everglades), and particularly the ecological genetics of this tree and
    its influence on the performance of a weevil imported as a biological
    control against the plant.

    FAMILY: I have been blessed with a lovely, intelligent wife (18 years)
    and four children: girls 17, 13, and 5, and a son 15. All of our
    children have been homeschooled until high school. The oldest three have
    been competitive gymnasts, and two are now competitive cheerleaders.

    FAITH BACKGROUND: My personal relationship with Jesus began in 1972 as
    a teenager, but I didn't fully begin to "walk the walk" until 1982. As
    a family, we have served and worshipped in Methodist, Baptist, and
    Charismatic traditions - believing that it is most important to be where
    God calls us, for the season that He calls us there, rather than seeking
    to stay within any particular tradition/denomination. In keeping with
    that belief we are currently serving at a "non-denominational" church
    (one of the many that seem to be becoming denominations of their own -
    has anyone else noticed the irony in this?). I have been involved in
    worship from the earliest days of my youth, and have had the privilege
    to lead worship on short-term mission trips to Guatemala and the
    Dominican Republic. I served as a youth pastor for several years, and as
    a certified lay preacher. My wife and I have co-taught Sunday School for
    many years, and my two youngest daughters and I formed a praise band
    that led kid's worship for a couple of years as well. The greatest
    blessings of my life have been watching as my wife and children each
    came to know the Lord.

    As a graduate student at the University of Vermont, I faced constant
    pressure to defend my faith, particularly in regards to the
    creation/evolution debate. As a scientist, it was difficult to defend
    my conviction that "In the beginning, God..." As a Christian, it was
    difficult to defend working within "... the great unifying theory of
    biology." (E. Mayr, I think). That tension has only intensified during
    the past two decades as a researcher. Finding ASA a few while ago was
    thus a true blessing, because I found that I wasn't alone (silly to
    think that I was, but my experiences had not introduced me to others of
    similar persuasions) in facing this dynamic. I have benefited greatly
    from the newsletters, PS&CF articles, and the discussions on this

    In Him,

    F. Allen Dray Jr.
    Ecology and Biological Control of Invasive Plants

    USDA Agricultural Research Service
    Invasive Plant Research Laboratory
    3205 College Avenue
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314

    voice: 954.475.0541 x112
      efax: 425.795.6712

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