ECU Biology Department Hosts Symposium in Honor of Retiring Distinguished Professors

Two Distinguished Professors Retiring from ECU Biology Department

GREENVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 9, 2010) — The East Carolina University Department of Biology this fall will see two of its longtime professors retire. Leaving the university are Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professors in biology, Drs. Mark Brinson and Robert Christian.

Brinson came to ECU in 1973 after completing his doctoral degree from the University of Florida. He has taught courses in ecology, wetland ecology and management, restoration ecology, introductory biology and environmental biology. He has directed 24 master’s theses and one doctoral dissertation.

“My 35 plus years at East Carolina University have been extraordinarily rewarding, both personally and professionally. Strong and sustained support from the university, college and biology department, and from individual faculty, students and staff are the envy of my colleagues at institutions elsewhere,” said Brinson.

Throughout his career, Brinson has authored or co-authored many publications pertaining to his research, including 49 journal publications, more than 60 reports and book chapters, as well as five book reviews. Over the past 37 years, he has received approximately 40 research grants that total more than $2 million. Applying his research, Brinson has served as a technical consultant providing feedback and advise to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Smithsonian Institution.

In addition, Brinson has received many honors and awards, including the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor Award, ECU’s Board of Trustees Lifetime Achievement Award, a National Wetlands Award for Science Research cosponsored by the Environmental Law Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency, and a Fellowship of the Society of Wetland Scientists.

“My work as an ecosystem ecologist has benefitted from the rich diversity of habitats in eastern North Carolina, and from the opportunity to study wetlands throughout the USA and abroad. I look forward to several more active years of research on the ecology and management of wetlands and of professional service on various committees and boards,” said Brinson.

Christian received his doctoral degree from the University of Georgia in 1976. He came to ECU in 1981, after serving as an assistant professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia. While at ECU, he has taught many courses, including principles of biology, principles of microbiology, microbial ecology and marine community ecology. He has directed 17 master’s theses and two doctoral dissertations.

“The Biology Department at ECU has been my academic home for the past 29 years. It, and the university, have provided me an environment that has suited my personality and allowed me to pursue all aspects of my goals as a professor,” said Christian. “I thank all of the students, faculty, staff and administrators who have helped make it, what I hope is, a respectable career.”

While teaching, Christian has conducted research in the areas of coastal ecosystems, particularly salt marshes, estuaries and coastal lagoons along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. More recently, he has been involved in studies of headwater streams within the coastal plain. Throughout his career, he has published or co-authored more than 60 journal publications and 40 book chapters, and he has participated in more than 125 presentations within his areas of research. Brinson also has received 34 research grants that total more than $3 million.

Of his many honors and accolades, Christian has received the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor Award, an ECU Lifetime Achievement Award in Research and Creativity, and a Fellowship of the American Academy of Microbiology. He is also a member, or has served as a board member or official, of several organizations, including the American Institute of Biological Sciences, Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation, Southeastern Estuarine Research Society and the Ecological Society of America.

Symposium in Honor of Brinson and Christian

On Aug. 28, the Department of Biology will co-host a free, public symposium with the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy, “Wetlands at Risk: New Scientific Insights into Critical Ecosystems,” in honor of Brinson and Christian. The symposium will feature five guest presenters and a final question and answer session from 1 – 4:30 p.m. in the Science and Technology Building, Room C207.

For additional information, contact Dr. Jeff McKinnon, chair of the Department of Biology, at 252-328-5258 or Individuals requesting accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should call 252-737-1016 (voice/TTY) at least 48 hours prior to the event.

Parking for the event will be available in the A1 zone areas near Brewster, Austin and Rivers as well as the B1 zone area off College Hill Drive. Parking permits will not be required but all other regulations will remain in effect, e.g. no parking, handicapped, and service/maintenance.