William E. Hopper
From an “Ecologist Directory” maintained by the ESA Education Office about 2004-2005. Profile circa 2004.
Department Chemistry and Director of the Center for Urban Environmental Studies
Organization Florida Memorial University, Miami FL
When did you become interested in ecology?
I got interested in ecology when I was 10 years old when my parents gave me a book for Christmas about it. Although I went on to major in chemistry in college, it remained as an interest, but I didn’t know that I could be employed in it.
Describe your route to a career in (or using) ecology. What challenges did you need to overcome? What was your training, and what positions have you held?
After graduating with a PhD in chemistry, I took two postdoctoral fellowships in laboratories at the University of Miami’s Medical School. Because other people’s grants kept running out, I thought I should get a permanent job and was hired as an assistant professor of chemistry at Florida Memorial College. The next year I was made Chair of the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. I held several other administrative positions under different administrations, but always maintained a presence in natural sciences. An opportunity arose from the PEJER grant to investigate the development of a major in Environmental Studies, which we pursued, and which led directly into the SEEDS program, which enabled us both to institute the new major and for me to obtain the credentials necessary to teach in environmental studies. Our experience with SEEDS was leveraged with the South Florida Water Management District into a contract which allowed us to open the Center for Urban Environmental Studies.
How did you learn about ecological careers? What is your position title now?
My title now is Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Urban Environmental Studies. I learned about careers in ecology from my participation in the SEEDS program, which enabled me to return to graduate school and earn a second master’s degree, this one in Environmental Studies.
What key advice would you offer a student today?
Keep as many options open as possible and get outside and see what is going on there.