Lawrence A. Kapustka (2004)
From an “Ecologist Directory” maintained by the ESA Education Office about 2004-2005. Profile circa 2004.
Degree Ph.D. 1975 (University of Oklahoma)
Organization Ecological Planning and Toxicology, Inc.
My interests in ecology began in early childhood as a farm kid spending as much time as possible fishing and hunting. But it was the first Earth Day celebration that brought the personal and the academic interests together. Entry into graduate studies was serendipitous. My goal of being a high school biology teacher and basketball coach was set aside as the teacher market was suddenly saturated. The graduate faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (John Davidson, Eric Davies, John McClendon, and Pat Rand) each pushed in different ways challenging assumptions and demanding clarity and logic. When I moved to Oklahoma in pursuit of doctoral studies, I was again privileged to interact in a setting that honored the classic roots of biology while embracing forward-looking developments. Dynamic interactions among ecology students of Elroy Rice (my advisor) and Paul Risser; physiologists Len Beevers and John Fletcher; and taxonomist Jim Estes brought ecology to life.
My career path began in academics at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and then Miami University. After 13 years in research and education, I gave up tenure to take a government research position at the US EPA laboratory in Corvallis, OR. Apparently not demonstrating an aversion to risk, I left that position in 1990 to start a consulting company that has kept me busy since.
Society faces many challenges that to varying degrees depend on ecological resource management. The exciting challenge for ecologists is to communicate the complex technical relationships that define ecological systems to a broader audience. Working with industry, government, and public interest groups to solve contemporary environmental problems can be frustrating or fulfilling and is often both. The science of ecology provides many opportunities to resolve conflicts among potentially adversarial parties and offers the best hope for successfully environmental management.