William E. Snyder
From an “Ecologist Directory” maintained by the ESA Education Office about 2004-2005. Profile circa 2004.
Position Assistant Professor
Department Entomology Department
Organization Washington State University, Pullman WA
When did you get interested in ecology? Who was most influential in guiding you into ecology?
I got interested in ecology by doing an undergraduate research project at the University of Delaware. My advisor was Larry Hurd (now at Washington and Lee) and the project looked at predation between two species of praying mantis. Dr. Hurd is somewhat unusual in that he encourages undergraduates to develop their own research projects. It was a great experience. I got to do all the steps from devising experiments to writing up and publishing the results.
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?
I took the traditional route to an academic career. I went straight from undergrad to graduate school, did a postdoc for a year, and then got my current position.
How did you learn about ecological careers? What is your position title now?
I guess I learned about career possibilities as I went through graduate school, from the word on the street. I like to work without a boss, and I like to work outside as much as I can, so my current job as a professor is a good one for me. My job title is assistant professor, and I do biological control research in the entomology department at Washington State University.
What key advice would you offer a student today?
If you are interested in an academic career, it’s pretty straightforward what you need to do – concentrate on your research, apply for every grant you can, and write papers. It’s also helpful to meet as many people as you can at national meetings. Personal connections can really help in landing job interviews, and once you get an interview you almost always have a chance at the job. For me it was very helpful to have experience in both basic and applied research. It is best to pursue research that spans disciplines, it’s rewarding and will make you compatible with a wider range of job descriptions.