Professor of Biology; Co-Director of Environmental Studies Program
PhD Princeton University
MES Yale University
BA University of Virginia
Tel: 269.337.5977; Office: Dow 307
- 2017-present Professor of Biology, Kalamazoo College, MI
- 2008-2017 Associate Professor of Biology, Kalamazoo College, MI
- 2007 Robert F. and Harriet G. Varney Assistant Professor of Biology (3 year endowed professorship)
- 2001-2008 Assistant Professor of Biology, Kalamazoo College, MI
- 1999-2001 NSF Post-doctoral Teaching Fellow and Visiting Scholar, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
My research involves studying the structure and dynamics of terrestrial plant communities. Specifically I ask questions about the origin and maintenance of diversity in shoreline communities, grasslands, and forests. I also have an interest in applied conservation biology, and develop relationships with area natural resource agencies and non-profit conservation groups in order to match my expertise (and access to motivated students) with their research needs. I encourage students to contact me if they are interested in ecological research, during the academic year or during the summer.
BIOL 115 Environmental Science
BIOL 224 Ecology & Conservation with Lab
BIOL 232 Plant Biology with Lab
BIOL 312 Population and Community Ecology with Lab
ENVS 490 Environmental Studies Senior Seminar (for concentrators)
Grants and Awards
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative ($90,000): “Pitcher’s thistle (Cirsium pitcheri) range-wide status and viability assessment” – research associate (2020-2023)
Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership Faculty Fellowship: “Piloting an alternative on-ramp course for STEM education at Kalamazoo College” (2018-2020)
Michigan Botanical Foundation Grant ($2000) to support the project: “Analyzing the Spread of Spotted Knapweed in the Habitats of Two Threatened Dune Species, Pitcher’s Thistle and Lake Huron Tansy” (2016)
Inspired Learning Grant from the Learning Network ($2500) to support the project: “Teaching Computer Programming to 1st graders using Beebots” (2014)
Institute for Great Lakes Research grant ($7064, co-PI with Daelyn Woolnough, Centeral Michigan University) in support of the project “Using mesocosms to link microcosm and field data: Cladophora, a nuisance on multiple scales” (2014)
Michigan Botanical Foundation Grant ($1110) in support of the project “Space Invader: mapping and analyzing the spread of Spotted Knapweed into the habitats of two threatened dune species, Pitcher’s Thistle and Lake Huron Tansy” (2013)
Great Lakes Colleges Associations New Directions Initiative grant ($5152) to support a project entitled “From Big to Small: Using Geneflow to Determine How Plants Disperse along Great Lakes Shorelines” (2011)
National Science Foundation RUI Award (2009, $135,000) in support of a project to study the interaction of scale, habitat, and dispersal limitation in Great Lakes shoreline plant communities.
Kalamazoo Community Foundation Environment Now (2007, $14,500), shared with Joan Esson, Chemistry Department, to support research on effects of a subdivision development on a local wetland ecosystem
Hanes Foundation (2004, $2500) in support of prairie restoration research in cooperation with the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy
National Science Foundation (2002, $43,000) in support of a project entitled: “Incorporating real-world experience in diverse science curricula through community building partnerships”
(* denotes undergraduate coauthor)
Rivera, B. J.*, K. C. Wynne* and E.B. Girdler. 2021. Large scale presence determinants do not necessarily predict individual growth of an imperiled dune thistle (Cirsium pitcheri). The Great Lakes Botanist 60: 97-109.
Girdler, E. Binney, Megan P. Davis*, and Zachary M. Smith*. 2016. Dynamics of an Invasion: The Spatial Interactions of Invasive Centaurea stoebe with Native Cirsium Pitcheri and Tanacetum huronense in a Dune Environment. American Midland Naturalist 176:20–35.
Girdler, E. B. and B. T. Connor Barrie*. 2008. The scale-dependent importance of habitat factors and dispersal limitation in structuring of a Great Lakes shoreline plant community. Plant Ecology 198:211–223
Siccama, T. G., T. J. Fahey, C. E. Johnson, T. W. Sherry, E. G. Denny, E. B. Girdler, G. E. Likens, and P. A. Schwarz. 2007. Population and Biomass Dynamics of Trees in a Northern Hardwood Forest at Hubbard Brook. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37:737-749.
Girdler, E. B. and T. Radtke*. 2006. Individual scale spatial pattern reveals density dependence and nonrandom herbivory in the threatened dune thistle, Cirsium pitcheri. American Midland Naturalist 156:213-228.
Girdler, E. B., S.C. Trombulak, and A. Ruesink. 2002. Guidelines for partnerships in applied ecology and education. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 83 (2): 123-124.