Woodward S. Bousquet
Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology
Chair, Environmental Studies Department
Science Education (emphasis in environmental science), The Ohio
State University, 1982
Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, 1976
Cornell University, 1975
teaches undergraduate courses in ecology, environmental science,
regional studies, and related fields. He also supervises
undergraduates in research and public education projects that
address environmental concerns in the Shenandoah Valley region
of Virginia, and beyond.
"I have seen many
‘career fads' come and go. Follow your passion, get experience, and be
creative in developing your career path."
fields of biology do you work in?
When did you know you wanted to become a Biologist?
Probably since I was five years old and found
myself enjoying stomping around in ponds and streams and catching frogs.
What was your college experience like?
Excellent! Great classes and field trips. I found
courses I wanted to take and mentor-professors who encouraged my varied
interests and gave me opportunities to grow.
Did you incorporate work experiences while you were an undergrad?
Yes. Every summer I worked in an environmental
field at a wildlife sanctuary or environmental education center.
How did you get your first job?
I found a job listing at my university and
applied…along with more than 200 others! My summer work and projects I
did college attracted the search committee's attention, which led to an
What's the most rewarding thing about being a Biologist?
The opportunity to work together with
undergraduate students to study environmental issues (e.g., water
quality, land protection) that affect the ecological health and quality
of life in the region where my university is located.
Is there an example you can provide that shows how something you've
worked on has positively impacted the world?
A year-long study that my students and I conducted
of a nearby wetland led to its protection and dedication as our city's
first formally designated natural area: the Abrams Creek Wetlands
Do you spend a fair amount of time traveling?
Most of my travel is within 200 miles from home.
There are plenty of research projects and field trip sites right outside
my door! However, I recently went to Guatemala to study how communities
there are shifting to ecotourism to make their economies more
sustainable. I have also traveled extensively in the Appalachian
Mountains, from Alabama to Newfoundland, Canada.
Do you have a mentor? Or did you in your college years?
Yes, my work supervisors when I was in high school
were key mentors, as were several professors, plus colleagues in each of
my first two jobs.
Do you find yourself working more in a team situation, or more alone?
More in a team situation -- with faculty
colleagues, and with undergraduate students.
Do you find you are able to balance work with social/family life while
working in your current job?
Always a challenge. It helps to schedule family
and church events well in advance to make sure that I don't let my
career fill my calendar. I've learned to say "no" or "not now".
If you had to do it all over again, would you still become a Biologist?
Did you think that school prepared you for the way the work gets done in
the real world?
School had better BE the so-called "real world"! I
agree that the best preparation in upper-level university courses should
involve applying classroom and lab instruction to problems that face
people outside the university's borders.
Where do you see jobs for Biologists in the future? What should students
be doing to prepare themselves to take on those roles?
There has been a great deal of growth in the
private sector in the past 20 years. Many more university graduates are
finding jobs with environmental consulting firms — and with nonprofit
citizens organizations -- than in state or federal government.
Internships before graduation are critical.
What other advice do you have for precollege students?
Do not -- repeat: do not -- select a career path
primarily because you believe that money can be made in a particular
field, or that jobs are scarce in another field. I have seen many
"career fads" come and go. Many biology professors claim that, for
instance, molecular biology and health professions are THE fields today
in biology, while ecology and natural history are on the wane. As an
ecologist who has seen his students succeed quite well after graduation,
I beg to differ. Those biological skills that many might consider
"old-timey" (e.g., collecting insects, preserving fish, knowing one
flower from another) are now in demand because of society's increased
needs for environmental impact assessment, wetland delineation and water
quality monitoring. Remember, you don't need 100,000 job openings, you
need only 1. Follow your passion, get experience, and be creative in
looking for a career.