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People at LBC

Chuck Elzinga
Chuck Elzinga, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Department: Biology
Address: E-33 Holmes
Phone: (517) 355-7544

I have a life-long passion for knowing all I can about nature and learning how organisms interact with their environment. This interest led me to spend more than fifteen summers at biological stations teaching and doing research in a variety of areas that range from resource partitioning among bird species to determining the effect of water currents on the distribution of stream algae.

My present research is focused on learning what role parasites and competition might play in causing the wide fluctuations in macroinvertebrates that we often see in pristine trout streams. One aspect of this research is to monitor the long-term populations of stream insects over a wide variety of Michigan rivers in order to see how a microscopic parasite controls a key insect species, and as a consequence, how it influences the energy pathway in many trout stream food webs.

The primary goal of my teaching is to reignite in students a child-like fascination with living things. I attempt to accomplish this by giving students many field and research experiences. Outdoor labs and weekend fieldtrips are central features of my courses, as well as, teaching students how to explore biology through scientific investigation. My greatest joy as a teacher is seeing students rediscover their interest in the natural history of the plants, animals, fungi, and prokaryotes that surround us. As students awaken to the diversity of life and interactions that we encounter (but often overlook) each day, they begin to ask new questions and see with fresh eyes how to use scientific methods in answering them.

My most recent teaching duties include Honors Organismal Biology Laboratory (LBC 158H), Field Ecology for Biology Teachers (NSC 855/856), and Tropical Biodiversity and Conservation of Panama (LBC 493). While these courses are taught in widely different settings-Honors Biology on campus, Field Ecology at MSU's Kellogg Biological Station, and Tropical Biodiversity & Conservation is a Study Abroad course in Panama-my teach philosophy remains similar. I try to use field experiences to build students' interest in natural history and I use research experiences to build their creative and analytical skills.