Penn GSE CMSI

Eric Butler

Eric Butler’s desire to be an ecologist grew out of his love of nature as a child. Unlike some young adults, Eric never wondered what he wanted to be when he grew up—he always knew he wanted to be a scientist working with animals outdoors. During his PhD work, Eric focused on grasshoppers, which provide a convenient arthropod model for many important ecological interactions. During the last semester of his PhD work, Eric worked as an adjunct at an HBCU and began seriously considering working at an HBCU full-time. When he began his job at Shaw University, he found that while few of his students expressed an initial interest in wildlife or nature, this was largely due to a lack of exposure. A handful of field trips in a zoology class turned into the Wildlife Biology Club, which now takes students hiking and camping in natural areas. Several of Eric’s graduating seniors are now considering careers in zoology, ecology, or environmental education because of their experiences in this club. Eric has also been able to involve undergraduate students heavily in research. His own field is easy to start out in since many basic observations can be recorded without a student first learning how to use expensive equipment, and he has been able to use this to encourage students to start successful research projects in his lab, several of which are now close to publishing.