After growing up in Southern California, Dr. Neely attended Humboldt State University where he studied environmental biology and botany. After completing his undergraduate program, he began graduate school in botany at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he later earned a Master of Science degree. Dr. Neely worked as an environmental scientist in the field of geotechnical engineering for two years before embarking upon a new graduate program in botany at Washington State University. He was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree in botany in 2006, and then went on to instruct biology and botany classes at Cypress and Golden West colleges in Orange County, California. Dr. Neely came to Ashford University in 2011, where he is currently Assistant Professor of Biology.