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Associate Professor

University of Central Oklahoma


I am currently an associate professor of Biology. I’m a member of the Center for Wildlife Forensic Science and Conservation Studies (C-FACS) and of the Center for Research and Education in Interdisciplinary Computation (CREIC). I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as the oldest of three girls. I fell in love with snakes in high school and earned my B.S. in Zoology focusing on Zoo and Aquarium Science, as well as my B.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University. After deciding zookeeping wasn’t for me, I earned my M.S. from the University of Texas at Tyler studying phylogenetics of South American pitvipers. I realized I loved research and teaching and therefore earned my Ph.D. from the University of Central Florida in Conservation Biology, studying phylogenetics and evolution of all pitvipers. I share my home with my husband, son and daughter, a cat and six nonvenomous snakes.

Education and Certifications

2003 B.S. Michigan State University, Zoology
2003 B.A. Michigan State University, Theatre
2006 M.S. University of Texas at Tyler, Biology
2012 Ph.D. University of Central Florida, Conservation Biology

Research, Published Work, and Scholarly Activities

I am first and foremost a herpetologist and evolutionary biologist. My graduate work and ongoing interests focus on phylogenetics (evolutionary relationships of species) of pitvipers using DNA and phenotypic data. By understanding these relationships I and others can investigate interesting evolutionary patterns, such as why there are so many species in South America or if a complex character like bearing live young can evolve only in one direction or if it can reverse to an ancestral character like egg-laying.

The major focus of my lab is on population genetics of the Mediterranean gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus. This nocturnal lizard is exotic but not damaging to the environment because it is easily spread by humans and lives on building walls, eating insects. We have found that geckos at UCO show genetic differences across just a few decades and a few hundred meters. We continue to survey campus and are expanding sampling to other independent invasions such as at the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City Zoo. Please email if you are interested in being notified up upcoming sampling nights open to students, family and friends. Several students are involved in the lab side of the project, genotyping microsatellites to analyze genetic diversity and genetic structure. Students present at Oklahoma Research Day as well as regional and national/international meetings.

Students and I have also studied the evolution of other groups, such as population genetics of fire ants at UCO and Lake Arcadia or stoneflies in the sky islands of Nevada.


Note underline denotes student mentee.

  • Matheny, A. M., L. B. Kimmel, P. A. Stone and A. M. Fenwick. 2018. Comparative population genetics of red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) at the University of Central Oklahoma and Lake Arcadia, Edmond, Oklahoma. American Midland Naturalist: 180(2): 246–257.
  • Arnaldi, K. G., A. M. Fenwick, A. L. Sheldon and A. S. Slater. 2015. Contrasting patterns of population genetic structure in two Great Basin stoneflies. Papers and Publications: Interdisciplinary Journal of Undergraduate Research: 4: 18.
  • Wittenberg, R. D., R. C. Jadin, A. M. Fenwick, and R. L. Gutberlet, Jr. 2015. Recovering the evolutionary history of Africa's most diverse viper genus: Morphological and molecular phylogeny of Bitis (Reptilia: Squamata: Viperidae). Organisms Diversity and Evolution 15(1): 115–125.
  • Schultheis, A. S., N. Davis, J. T. Page, A. M. Fenwick, J. E. Bond and D. K. Shiozawa. 2014. Comparative transcriptomics allows for rapid development of population-level nuclear markers in Hesperoperla pacifica (Plecoptera: Perlidae). Freshwater Science 33: 364–373.
  • Fenwick, A. M., H. W. Greene, and C. L. Parkinson. 2012. The serpent and the egg: Dollo’s Law and the evolution of reproductive mode in vipers. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 50:59–66.
  • Fenwick, A. M., R. L. Gutberlet, Jr., J. A. Evans, and C. L. Parkinson. 2009. Morphological and molecular evidence for phylogeny and classification of South American pitvipers, genera Bothrops, Bothriopsis, and Bothrocophias (Serpentes: Viperidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 156:617–640.

Classes Taught

BIO 1204: Biology I for Majors

BIO 3254: Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy and Lab

BIO 3303: Genetics

BIO 3703: Evolution

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