George Middendorf

From an “Ecologist Directory” maintained by the ESA Education Office about 2004-2005. Profile circa 2004.

Degree                                           Ph.D.
Position                                         Professor
Department                                   Biology Department
Organization                                 Howard University, Washington DC

george_middendorf_profile

When did you get interested in ecology?  Who was most influential in guiding you into ecology?

I got interested in the potential of a career in ecology through participation in the NSF URP (Undergraduate Research Participation) program. The present-day equivalent is the NSF REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) Program. I spent the summer working studying chipmunks at Hubbard Brook with Gary Potter and Dr. Richard Holmes (Dartmouth College). Prior to that summer experience I hadn’t really ever considered such a career!

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?

My initial career interests were in Animal Behavior and because of my Psychology major (along with a variety of Biology courses that I took in my junior and senior years), I enrolled in a graduate Psychology program at City University of New York. I took behavior and ecology courses at Hunter College, City University, and the American Museum of Natural History—and began behavioral studies of lizards in Arizona where I became very interested, again, in ecological influences on behavior. When I also realized that lizard psychology was probably not going to be a field with high demand, I finished my master’s degree in New York and went on to get my Ph.D. degree in Zoology at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, did a postdoc at the University of Iowa, and then began teaching at Howard University.

How did you learn about ecological careers?  What is your position title now?

I learned about careers in ecology through the URP program mentioned above. I currently am a professor of Biology at Howard University in Washington, DC. I teach a variety of courses, including at the undergraduate level: Ecology, Animal Behavior, Environmental Studies, Herpetology and Science & Public Policy and at the graduate level: Ecological and Environmental Biology.

What key advice would you offer a student today?

My key advice to students is fairly straightforward: Follow your heart. Figure out what you enjoy doing; you’ll be doing an awful lot of it. Figure out how you can have a positive impact; you’ll want to be able to look back later in life with a sense of accomplishment.

 

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