Rob is the principle director of the Youtube web series. He is also the director of the video series for the High School biology BioAdventures series for the Miller/Levine Biology textbook, the Middle Grades Science BioAdventures series and is a co-producer for the new Elementary Science BioAdventures series. The following text and videos serve as a background of Rob's experience as a host, an educator and filmmaker.
Rob began his ecogeek career as a marine scientist. He earned a bachelors degree in Marine Science from the University of Miami. He spent a year studying in Australia at James Cook University in 1999 where he met fellow producer and ecogeek co-host Jonas Stenstrom. He later got a masters degree at the University of Hawaii where he studied the behavioral and population ecology of the Hawaiian Shrimp Goby and how they interact with predators like hammerhead sharks.
Rob's time in Hawaii was spent doing research and making films of both his and his colleagues findings. Since he enjoyed science and filmmaking he decided to mold both passions together and got accepted to do a masters in Science Filmmaking at Montana State University's Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program.
Read more about how Rob got started in wildlife filmmaking
In the series Untamed Science has made for school kids from elementary to high-school, Rob is known for his efforts in combining extreme sports with science. While it might seem like a leap to most Rob is the first to try and combine them. He has skills in multiple sports that the team has used to tell the science stories including whitewater kayaking, snowboarding, SCUBA diving, hang gliding, skydiving, wake-boarding, cross-country skiing, slalom skiing, bare-footing, open ocean swimming, parkor, road cycling and mountain biking, and kite-boarding. We asked Rob to explain why he tries to incorporate some sort of extreme sport into every video
"I don't include these sports in our videos as a kind of cheesy, extreme intro. I include the sports I love to do because I love doing them. First, its a great excuse to get out and do some of my sports while making a video. Second, I want people to realize that you can do sports while thinking about the science around you. Some of the videos we do have a natural connection. For instance, Jonas and I took up skydiving with the intent to tell the story of gravity. What a better visual than the two of us falling through the sky. We're not great at it yet, but we're certified to jump at night!"
"I also think that most of the sports that we call extreme sports, aren't really all that extreme. Everybody can do them, its just not as mainstream. Besides the science, we wanted to show students that they can do these sports too. Take hang-gliding for instance. Its a great sport and the equipment is relatively simple. The hang-gliders I talked to however, said that participation in the sport is dropping. They're not sure why, other than the fact that people just don't know about it. We have a great ability in this series to get some of these sports into the eyes of the public and we're happy that we can find good ways to do it. Hang-gliding by the way, is a great sport to explain concepts of the atmosphere and air currents!"
Rob uses many sports in the videos for Untamed Science. Some of them inlcude, wakeboarding, snowboarding, cross country skiing, barefooting, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, tree climbing, soccer, free diving and SCUBA. For more, see the full list of sports.
We asked Rob what is one thing he is passionate about. He told us that one of the many things he loves doing is SCUBA diving. We asked if he could write a brief story about what diving has meant to him and about how he has used diving to inspire students around the world. Here is what he said...
In 2010 Rob got married to one Haley Chamberlain (now Haley Nelson). They work together, creating science and nature videos everywhere they go. Here is a short video profiling both of them.
The following videos are a short selection of podcasts and shorts that Rob has had a leading role in.
Rob has been making science videos since 2001 and full time since 2005. He has had a chance to grow on camera over those years, but always remain true to his science background.
Rob isn't the only on-camera host with Untamed Science. Most of our filmmaking crew make on-camera appearances in the videos as well.
The on-camera faces of Untamed Science are only a few of the many people that have made this site a success. We'd also like to note a few of the other key players on the team.