Life on this planet is beautiful, bizarre, complicated, messy, confusing, disgusting, astonishing and wonderful. How could I not want to learn more about it?

Jeffrey Whitt, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate I Quail Research

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Biological and Environmental Sciences
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Biological and Environmental Sciences
Denton, TX
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Jeffrey Whitt is a biologist, a bibliophile, and an art school dropout. Through more years of schooling than he'd care to admit, Whitt has worked with armadillos, flying squirrels, pocket gophers, ground squirrels, and most recently, northern bobwhite. He is now continuing his research in the Quail Research Laboratory at A&M-Commerce. When Whitt is not reading, writing, and researching, he enjoys spending time with his patient wife and their curious daughter.

The Quail Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University-Commerce is determining the effects of high temperatures on the hatchability of Scaled and Gambel's Quail. Today, 2 undergraduates for the TAMUC honors college, 1 MS student in biology, and 1 faculty members incubated 600 quail eggs (300 Scaled Quail, 300 Gambel's Quail) at 7 temperatures to determine the lethal and sublethal temperatures. This research will determine key temperatures for quail nest success and failure and help landowners better manage habitat to mitigate high heat. It will also help us better understand how quail hatching will be impacted by temperatures predicted in nature due to climate change, Friday, June 3 in Commerce, Texas.

A Conversation with Dr. Whitt

What draws you to your discipline?

I have loved science from a young age but had very wide-ranging interests. It wasn't until I went to college that I considered biology as a career. I was drawn in that direction through recreational reading and my curiosity. Of course, having wonderful, smart friends who are also biologists doesn't hurt. Life on this planet is beautiful, bizarre, complicated, messy, confusing, disgusting, astonishing and wonderful. How could I not want to learn more about it?

What has been your favorite course to teach?

My favorite course to teach was probably comparative anatomy lab. I got to show the students how physical form is so closely related to function but also constrained by evolutionary history. I also immensely enjoyed teaching freshman biology to students in the Honors College at UNT. They were all very bright students with many different majors. Every class period was essentially one long conversation relating biology to other, varied interests and disciplines.

Tell us a little about yourself

I grew up in north Texas where my family resides today. I enjoy cooking complicated recipes from many cultures, curating a broad academic library, and finding great deals at garage sales. My wife and I take great joy in watching our daughter Penelope grow and explore the world around her. We are eagerly awaiting the day when she will become our intellectual superior. My family also enjoys travel and eating strange and wondrous cheeses from around the world. When asked about working with me, one of my colleagues said, “He always knows the best places to eat.

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Biology, University of North Texas, 2019
  • B.S., Biology, University of North Texas, 1997

Academic Positions

  • Post.D. Research Associate, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2019-Present

Awards and Honors

  • 1st place poster, Graduate Life Sciences, Thermal Stress Impacts on California Quail during Pre-incubation, Poster presentation at Pathways Research Symposium, 2019
  • 3rd place poster, Graduate Life Sciences, Roost Preferences of Translocated California Quail, Pathways Research Symposium, Rushing, 2019
  • 1st place poster, Undergraduate Life Sciences, Developmental Stages of the California Quail Embryo, Pathways Research Symposium, 2019

Research Interests

  • Species distribution with regard to abiotic factors and anthropogenic disturbances
  • Historical and future trajectories in species distribution
  • Interactions between physiology and ecology

Professional Organizations

  • Texas Wildlife Association

Selected Publications

  • Whitt, J.G., J. A. Johnson, and K.S. Reyna. 2017. Two centuries of human‐mediated gene flow in northern bobwhites. Wildlife Society Bulletin 41:639–648.
  • Whitt, JG and KS Reyna. 2017. Predicting northern bobwhite habitat in semiarid rangeland using LANDSAT imagery. Quail 8:107–116.
  • Reyna, K.S., J.G. Whitt, and W.N. Newman. Efficacy of Acclimating and Releasing Captive-Reared and Wild-Translocated Northern Bobwhites. Submitted.

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