UAF professor honored for moose research

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Professor Terry Bowyer, a nationally-recognized instructor and researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, needs no prompting to dive into his favorite topic moose.

The 54-year-old Bowyer has spent the better part of his professional life studying moose and writing about his research in prestigious journals.

Bowyer now has been selected as the 2003 winner of the American Society of Mammologists' C. Hart Merriam Award, the most prestigious honor the society bestows.

Bowyer said he knew his calling was to work with wildlife ever since his father began taking him hunting and fishing as a boy. One of his goals is to produce findings that will lead to better and more sound wildlife management, he said.

''After almost 20 years, I'm just starting to see some changes,'' Bowyer said.

Michael Willig, a Texas Tech University biology professor and chair of the Merriam Award committee, said many scientists do basic science but Bowyer stands out for his applied research.

''He's had a lot of impact in the areas he's studied, and that was an important consideration for the committee,'' Willig said.

Bowyer learned of the award during the American Society of Mammologists annual convention last month.

''My feet still haven't hit the ground,'' he said.

The award comes with the opportunity to write the lead article in an edition of the Journal of Mammology and also is a symbol of the respect other scientists and professors have for the winner, Willig said.

''Terry has sort of achieved the pinnacle of what we all would like to become,'' he said.

Willig said the award committee also was impressed by Bowyer's teaching skills and his work as adviser to graduate and undergraduate students. Good science depends largely on passing on the knowledge and passion for research to future generations, he said.

''Terry's had a really large impact on his students,'' Willig said. ''As scientists, sort of like parents, that's the legacy we leave behind.''

After earning his bachelor's and master's degrees at Humbolt State in California, Bowyer went on to earn a doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1985.

Bowyer's destiny was determined by a Humbolt State adviser who instructed him to sit down one day and observe deer. He's been studying similar mammals ever since.

Bowyer, the father of two grown sons now living in Oregon, started working for UAF as an assistant wildlife ecology professor in 1986 and quickly moved up the teaching ranks to a tenured position in 1990.

The area immediately fostered his interest in moose, though Bowyer admits that the cold winters were an intimidating barrier to conducting much field research.

''It was enough just going out to the car and hoping it would start, as I recall,'' he said.

Bowyer said that it's only been during the recent mild winters that he's been able to observe moose in the winter.

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