Wally was born in coastal Australia, but grew up on a sheep farm surrounded by the Wisconsin Northwoods in the USA. His rural upbringing instilled in him a passion for the natural world, and he was particularly interested in biology. He pursued this passion at the University of Minnesota where he obtained his B.S. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. During his undergraduate studies he solidified his interest in marine biology by partaking in field courses in the Galapagos Islands and the Bahamas. He also spent a semester at the University of Guam in Micronesia, where he volunteered at the Guam Marine Lab.
After graduating in 2012, he worked as a junior scientist for his alma mater’s Department of Entomology studying plant-herbivore interactions, gaining invaluable experience in experimental biology. After four years of studying insects he returned to the sea and began his M.S. in Ecology at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil. Drawing from his entomology experience, his thesis focused on herbivory between intertidal macroalgae and sea urchins under conditions of ocean warming and acidification. He also investigated the physiological effects of interspecific interactions between macroalgae on rocky coasts, finding that some species are strongly affected by the presence of other algae.
At KAUST, Wally is excited to continue with the theme of global change biology and species interactions in marine environments. He plans to study the effects of stressors such as warming, nutrient enrichment, and overfishing on Red Sea corals, and how this will affect future coral reef communities.