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Personal Accounts

Most of the accounts below are from an “Ecologist Directory” maintained by the ESA Education Office about 2004-2005 to show the varying career paths and share lessons from practicing ecologists in many fields and roles. In 2009-10 additional stories were recorded in a more structured format and the name was changed to “Focus on Ecologists.” Some ecologists were profiled both times; sometimes the two profiles are nearly the same, but in other cases they are quite different. We are retrieving these Personal Accounts to archive here. Please note that biographic information may be incomplete or out-of-date; many of these stories portray ecologists who were early in their careers at the time. We have tried to update with current information as we can.

This initiative intended to show the variety of approaches to careers in ecology. At the time, the Education & Diversity Office invited all ESA award winners to submit and to enhance the diversity, they also asked the Education committee (EHRC at the time) to nominate people, who were invited to submit their stories. Initially, there was an open process for others interested, but the site got spammed and had to be closed. More than 100 Personal Accounts are available from this project.

Original Project Description

The Focus on Ecologists project offers a glimpse of life through the eyes of individuals trained in ecological science who have brought that experience into all sorts of different careers, many of which are still evolving.

Ecologists study oceans, deserts, forests, cities, grasslands, rivers, and every other corner of the world. More and more, ecologists are teaming with physical scientists, social scientists, policy makers, and computer programmers to understand better how organisms interact with each other and with the environment in which they live. Ecologists can be educators, technicians, field scientists, administrators, consultants, and writers. The main traits all ecologists share are curiosity, creativity, a passion for observation and scientific inquiry, and, judging by these profiles, boundless enthusiasm for asking and answering hard questions.

This page is part of an ongoing project to introduce web visitors to the options available to students interested in ecology. We will continue adding new profiles periodically, so check back with us to watch the site grow. The individuals included in the first Focus on Ecologists were selected to provide a diverse array of personalities, backgrounds, and career paths so each person visiting the site might find something here that inspires new questions and new experiences.

An Additional Resource

Richard T. T. Forman recently published a summary of the results of a survey of ecologists carried out by Murray Buell’s students in the 1950’s and later. The results provide insights into the motivations and challenges faced by an earlier generation of ecologists, including many of the founders of the field

For additional information on the original directory, please email ESA’s webmaster at: