A wildlife ecologist and University of Arkansas - Fort Smith alumnus will be the guest speaker at the university’s Faculty Appreciation Ceremony and Undergraduate Research Symposium held from 1-4 p.m. April 17 on the UAFS campus.
Dr. Charles Preston will speak to students in the Breedlove Auditorium at 1 p.m. on the excitement and responsibility of conducting scientific research and the need to communicate the importance of science to the public.
“According to National Geographic Magazine, there is a war on science in our country,” Preston said. “It is crucial that scientists learn to effectively convey the product, process and adventure of science to the general public.”
Preston currently holds the Willis McDonald IV Chair of Natural Science at the Center of the West, a museum complex in Cody, Wyo. He is also the founding and senior curator-in-charge of the center’s Draper Natural History Museum, which focuses on the wildlife and ecology of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
The symposium provides an opportunity for UAFS students to showcase research they’ve conducted to fellow students, faculty members and the community. Students participate from various colleges across campus, and awards will be given following the event to the top research projects.
Following Preston’s talk, students will present their research at the Pendergraft Health Sciences Center and the Boreham Library. A total of 151 students will participate, including 58 oral presentations and 22 poster presentations.
Dr. Georgia Hale, UAFS provost, said Preston’s talk will help students understand the importance of the research they’ve conducted.
“The talk will help students to understand the importance of doing research and being able to articulate their findings in an open forum,” Hale said. “While researching a topic, students are gaining a deeper understanding of topics than they might have gained from a classroom lesson.”
Preston previously served as the curator of ornithology and chairman of the Department of Zoology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Prior to that, he taught as an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and has held several adjunct faculty positions.
He graduated from UAFS in 1972 when it was Westark Community College with an associate’s degree in biology, and earned a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management and biology from Arkansas Tech University. He went on to earn a master’s degree in zoology and a doctorate in zoology and ecology from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
UAFS classes are dismissed on the day of the symposium, allowing faculty and students the opportunity to attend the symposium as well as faculty events that morning.