Get to know your staff members! Click on each image to view the full bio.
Mike Van ValenFounder, Wild Snakes : Education and Discussion
Jim BassWSED Staff
Ashley TubbsWSED Staff
Bridgette GigiWSED Staff
Bill Rulon-MillerWSED Staff
Spencer GreeneSpencer Greene, MD, MS, FACEP, FACMT
Andrew DursoWSED Staff
Russell GrayWSED Staff
Chelsea RomanWSED Staff
Kim Bell MrossWSED Staff
Laura LuxWSED Staff
Kendra MayleWSED Staff
Mike Van Valen
Mike founded WSED on September 1st, 2015.
I have a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology and a master’s degree in biology with an emphasis in herpetology. Once out of school, I did reptile outreach programs full time in southeast Texas for several years and absolutely loved it. I really enjoy providing a positive snake experience for people who were previously scared of them; that’s how conservation begins! I now am a 7th grade science teacher, and of course have a class snake and a class tarantula.
I have lived in various parts of Texas my whole life, but have traveled to many countries to look for wildlife! As much as I love snakes, I also love all other wildlife and pride myself in being a well-rounded wildlife person.
My “regular” job is a web developer and I.T. nerd. I utilize these skills to maintain the WSED.org website, and build more of a social media presence for our mission.
How did I get into snakes? A few years ago, I stumbled upon the Snake Identification group and really became obsessed with learning about and how to ID snakes. I joined the staff in October of 2017, and consider it a real honor. I learn so much every day from my team and our members. Our only goal is to help people learn and become as fascinated as we are with these extraordinary creatures.
I’m also raising my daughter to love snakes as much as I do!
I have been interested in snakes since I was very young and that interest has only grown over the years. I help with citizen science survey projects and work towards reforming conservation methods, especially in regards to rattlesnakes.
Spencer Greene, MD, MS, FACEP, FACMT is the Director of Medical Toxicology and an Assistant Professor in the Henry J.N. Taub Department of Emergency Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He directs the only medical toxicology service in Houston. Clinical interests include salicylates, anticonvulsant toxicity, physostigmine, alcohol withdrawal, and envenomations, and he consults on more than 100 bites and stings annually, including snakebites, spider bites, asp envenomations, and jellyfish stings. He serves as a consulting toxicologist for the Southeast Texas Poison Center and has directed the annual Houston Venom Conference since its creation in 2013. He was also the course director for the American College of Medical Toxicology’s Natural Toxins Academy.
Andrew is a herpetologist and postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Global Health. He was born in New York (USA) and grew up catching snakes in North Carolina. He earned a B.S. in Ecology from the University of Georgia in 2009, an M.S. in Biology from Eastern Illinois University in 2011, and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Utah State University in 2016. He writes a blog about snakes called ‘Life is Short, but Snakes are Long’. His current project is to gather images of all snake species worldwide in order to create an app capable of identifying them using machine learning, with support from expert and citizen science communities.
I study tropical and neotropical herpetofauana. My herpetology work started in Thailand on the king cobra project under Dr. Colin Strine, including several herpetofaunal community projects, and the green pit-viper spatial ecology project.
In northern Thailand, Tak province, I worked under the Khorat museum to make a species checklist of fauana in the Bantak Petrified Forest Park.
In Belize I conducted a project to compare the affects of expanding citrus agriculture on herpetofaunal communities.
I most recently worked with the Crocdocs lab of University of Florida on crocodile and alligator population research, as well as management research on invasive reptiles of south Florida.
these are three of my most recent publications:
-Gray, R., & Strine, C. T. (2017). Herpetofaunal assemblages of a lowland broadleaf forest, an overgrown orchard forest and a lime orchard in Stann Creek, Belize. ZooKeys 707: 131–165.
-Hofmann, E. P., Gray, R. J., Wilson, L. D., & Townsend, J. H. (2017). Discovery of the first male specimen of Tantilla hendersoni Stafford, 2004 (Squamata: Colubridae), from a new locality in central Belize. Herpetology Notes, 10, 53-57.
-Russell J. Gray & Erich P. Hofmann. (2017). Two new herpetofaunal records for Stann Creek District,
Belize. Mesoamerican Herpetology
Chelsea resides in Sherman, CT. She is a wife and mother to three boys that share her passion for wildlife. She has studied herpetology for most of her life.
Chelsea teaches a free class on native snakes biannually, and takes great pride in helping others understand these misunderstood animals. She is very thankful for the team of staff that make WSED such a valuable resource, and for the public like you who are willing to learn more!
Kim Bell Mross
Kim does so many things to help Georgia-native wildlife it’s hard to name them all. She is a Naturalist, and is the founder and owner of All Things Wild, North Georgia, an education-based group promoting conservation of native Georgia wildlife. Her knowledge of Georgia-native wildlife is uncanny, and her love for animals cannot be compared. Kim has interviewed on countless radio and TV shows, all in an effort to educate the public on the most misunderstood animal – snakes.
Kim is the professional Snake Wrangler for “The Walking Dead.” She has worked on some of the largest production sets in the world, keeping the snakes and the crew safe from each other. One could say Kim’s job is an exciting role, and she has done such an amazing job they’ve asked her to stay on for the upcoming tenth season.
At home, Kim has a son. She also keeps and rescues many animals, including venomous snakes, cats, turtles, skinks and several dogs.
As a senior in high school, Laura decided that she wanted to study biology in college to combine her loves of animals and science. However, her college counselor told her that she wasn’t smart enough to be a biologist (she had nearly perfect marks in high school, but really struggled with math). So, after switching her major 8 times, she ended up with a psychology degree.
After college, she held a myriad of jobs: conservation educator, zookeeper, vet assistant, naturalist, behavioral therapist… but she couldn’t let go of her scientist dream. So, she went back to school last Fall to study biology.
She currently works as an educator for Nebraska Wildlife Rehab and as a research assistant at a prairie preserve. She is currently involved with many of research projects at the preserve and at her university: natural history of snakes in the prairie; natural history of small mammals in the prairie; effect of white-nose syndrome on bat populations in Nebraska; range expansion of the northern long-eared bat in the Great Plains; foraging behavior of bats in the prairie, and conservation genetics.
When she is finished with her degree, she plans on going to grad school to study rattlesnakes and bats. She has an obsessively curious mind and notebooks of questions she wants to study.
Laura’s knowledge and understanding of animal biology and behavior makes her a valuable staff member here at WSED.
Kendra grew up in Augusta, GA. She is a lifetime animal lover and reptile enthusiast, holds a degree in chemistry, has studied zoology and biology, and is a new mommy. Around 2015 she joined some friends in the herp community and began a snake-keeping hobby. Some of her pet snakes have included cornsnakes, bullsnakes and ball pythons. She has spent several years studying snakes, and loves to practice by quizzing herself on identification and behavior.
In 2017, Kendra gladly joined the WSED staff to assist with group management, and also to help herself continue to learn and grow her knowledge of snakes.