Uetz was a biology major at Albion College, and took Ecology as his last class in his senior year. The course culminated in a field trip to Loon Lake in upper Michigan, which he describes as an awe-inspiring and eye-opening experience.
I have vivid memories of seeing the massive die-offs of alewife [a type of shad] on the shores of Lake Huron the result of a complicated, human-induced ecological disaster, an unintended consequence precipitated by the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, says Uetz. Connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes allowed the sea lamprey to invade, and eventually decimate populations of lake trout, the natural predator of alewife. As a result of this, populations of alewife grew so large they depleted the available dissolved oxygen supply (already reduced by pollution), and died off in huge numbers, piling up on the shoreline 23 feet deep!
It was easy to make a direct connection between the ecological principles we learned in class and what people were doing to the planet. After that, I went on to get a Master's, teach for two years and then earn a PhD in Ecology.
Uetz continues to be involved in a variety of environmental organizations and projects.
Ironically, Uetzs PhD was supported by a grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of an environmental impact assessment on a dam-reservoir-floodplain project. Uetz has taught Ecology at UC, conducts behavioral and ecological research, and continues to be involved in a variety of environmental organizations and projects.
So you could say that Earth Day really shaped my career, Uetz says.
Uetz sees that
|Contact: Wendy Hart Beckman|
University of Cincinnati