I retired from 44 years of classroom teaching in May 2018. Over that time, I taught 16 different courses, mostly in biostatistics, vertebrate biology, and ecology. Harding University recognized me with Distinguished Teacher Awards in 1994 and 2001.
Although I always said
I would never teach when I was young, I was highly motivated by a love of
nature, and I quickly learned in graduate school that it was in academia where
a biologist had the greatest freedom to practice biology however he desired. So
fundamentally, I taught because it was a great way to practice biology. I was
indeed a lucky man to be paid to do something that I had been doing since my
early childhood and that is sharing my childlike fascination with biology with
others. The distinguished biologist Whit Gibbons once stated, "Wonder
at the natural world should be an underpinning of any
biologist. Discovering how the natural world works and explaining it to
others are the ultimate validation of one's professional merit."
Whit - I could not agree more!
Another significant influence on my career decision occurred in my late twenties several years after I had committed my life to Christ. As a biologist and a Christian, I felt compelled to share God's Creation (in the broadest sense) with others. King Solomon once stated, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter - to search out a matter is the glory of kings" (Proverbs 25:2). That statement, which I believe is a statement of fact, made a deep and lasting impression on me. What a tremendous opportunity and privilege it is for a Christian biologist to "search out" what his Creator actually did, and still does, to make the Creation (=nature) work! One might be wise to consider that ignoring or belittling His Creation, whether in stewardship or, for some of us, in serious study, may be akin to blasphemy. The eminent Harvard biologist, E. O. Wilson, recently stated, "Each species, to put the matter succinctly, is a masterpiece. It deserves that rank in the fullest sense: a creation assembled with extreme care by genius." I do not know whether Wilson's "creation by genius" referred to God's work, nevertheless, to a Christian biologist the statement is highly thought-provoking and certainly is one that drove me in my work.
The link to my
biostatistics course following is provided at the request of my former students
who find the content helpful in their work. - Biostatistics