Kristin A. Bakkegard
Paul N. Propst Professor of Natural Sciences
Howard College of Arts and Sciences
Biological and Environmental Sciences
123 Propst Hall

Kristin Bakkegard grew up in Huntsville but she has seen the world as a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy, including a 2004 mobilization to Kuwait.  She retired from the Navy at the rank of Captain in June, 2018, with 30 years of service, active and reserve.

Upon leaving active duty, Bakkegard returned to her childhood passion for reptiles and amphibians by pursuing a master's degree at Auburn University. Her research centered on the endangered Red Hills salamander, Alabama's state amphibian. She headed west to Utah State University for her Ph.D., where she studied the population genetics, genetic diversity and gene flow in two salamander species affected by the eruption of Mount Saint Helens.

Bakkegard began teaching at Samford in 2008. Her general classes include Invertebrate Field Zoology, Vertebrate Field Zoology, Senior Seminar, Environmental Science, and Animal Biology courses. She also teaches human anatomy and general biology courses in varying semesters.

Since joining the Samford faculty, Bakkegard has taught the field biology classes, animal biology, and senior seminar. She is continuing her research on the Red Hills salamander, teaming with biologists at Auburn University. She is also monitoring a breeding population of spotted salamanders at the Homewood Forest Preserve near Samford's campus, and examining body size in dusky salamanders. Future projects include studying learning and memory in salamanders as in relation to their eating habits.

Degrees and Certifications

  • BS, United States Naval Academy
  • MA, Boston University
  • MS, Auburn University
  • PhD, Utah State University


  • Bakkegard, K.A. 2022. The amphibians and reptiles of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: An updated checklist and notes on conservation status and occurrence. Reptiles & Amphibians 29: 446–460.
  • Bakkegard, K.A., D.A. Johnson, and D.G. Mulcahy. 2020. A new locality, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, for the rare lizard Leiocephalus onaneyi (Guantánamo Striped Curlytail) and notes on its natural history. Caribbean Naturalist 79:1–22.
  • Bakkegard, K. A.,  A. H. Patton, and C. H. Ray. 2019.  Chigger mites (Hannemania cf. dunni) infest Northern Slimy Salamanders (Plethodon glutinosus) in Alabama, USA. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 14: 579-586.
  • von Byern, J., D. Mebs, E. Heiss, U. Dicke, O. Wetjen, K. Bakkegard, I. Grunwald, S. Wolbank, Mühleder, A. Gugerell, H. Fuchs, & S. Nüernberger. 2017. Salamanders on the bench – A biocompatibility study of salamander skin secretions in cell cultures. Toxicon 135: 24-32.
  • Bakkegard, K. A. 2017. Yawning by Red Hills Salamanders (Phaeognathus hubrichti) at their burrow entrance.  Herpetological Review 48:32-36.
  • Bakkegard, K. A. and L. J. Davenport. 2012. Nephila clavipes (Araneae: Nephilidae): A model species for monitoring climate change in the southeastern United States. Southeastern Naturalist 11: 551-566.  
  • Bakkegard, K. A. and R.A. Rhea. 2012. Tail length and sexual size dimorphism (SSD) in desmognathan salamanders. Journal of Herpetology 46: 304-311. 
  • Bakkegard, K. A. and A.P. Pessier. 2010. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Adult Notophthalmus viridescens in North-Central Alabama, USA. Herpetological Review 41: 45-47.
  • Reed, R.N., Bakkegard, K. A., Desy, G. E., Plentovich, S. M. 2007. Diet composition of the invasive cane toad (Chaunus marinus) on Rota, Northern Mariana Islands. Pacific Conservation Biology 13: 219-222.
  • Bakkegard, K. A. 2007. Interactions between the Red Hills Salamander and its potential invertebrate prey. Journal of the Alabama Academy of Science 78: 1-12.
  • Bakkegard, K. A. 2005. Antipredator behaviors of the Red Hills Salamander, Phaeognathus hubrichti. Southeastern Naturalist 4: 23-32.
  • Bakkegard, K. A. and C. Guyer. 2004. Sexual size dimorphism in the Red Hills Salamander, Phaeognathus hubrichti (Caudata: Plethodontidae: Desmognathinae). Journal of Herpetology 38: 8-15.
  • Bakkegard, K. A. 2002. Activity patterns of Red Hills Salamanders (Phaeognathus hubrichti) at their burrow entrances. Copeia 2002: 851-856.


  • Ecology and behavior of the Red Hills salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti)
  • Body size and ecology of Desmognathine (Dusky) salamanders
  • Herpetological diversity of Guantanamo, Cuba region
  • Properties of salamander skin secretion