Meet the Oriole Expert, David Aborn
Dr. David Aborn
Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences
University of Tennesse at Chattanooga
1) Any childhood memory that
was important in guiding you into your occupation?; how did you become interested
in this Field?
As long as I can remember I have been interested in animals (except for a truck driver
phase in 7th and 8th grades). The specific area I wanted to study varied (veterinarian,
marine biologist, forest ranger, etc.), but it was always animal oriented.
2) Any person, role model or leading authority that greatly influenced you?
I guess early in my life it would be people like Jaques Costeau and Marlin Perkins.
I never missed their shows, or any others like them. In high school, my biology teacher,
Stella Koch, was a big influence. She nurtured and encouraged my interests, and I
enjoyed her classes greatly. In college, Dr. Sid Gauthreaux (pronounced GO-troh)
really solidified my interests in birds, behavior, and migration. Last, my doctoral
advisor, Dr. Frank Moore, not only increased my interest in the field (which I didn't
think was possible), but also never stops having fun regardless of what he is doing.
3) Your background:(job title, profession, education/training etc...)
I have a B.S. and M.S. from Clemson University in SC, and a Ph.D from the University
of Southern Mississippi. This year, I have a project of my own starting in March
that will be looking at migratory and breeding birds at a newly protected area called
Lula Lake. I and an independent study student will be in the field every day, so
I should be able to provide a lot of information about migration as it happens, in
addition to getting reports from other people I know.
4) Favorite work story or experience: (One of your most exciting, memorable, or
exhilarating experiences in the Field!)
So many to choose from!!! I guess if I HAD to choose I would pick the time when I
witnessed an actual migratory fallout. I was working on a barrier island in the Gulf
of Mexico in the spring of 1991. We had one day that had been stormy all day. During
a break in the storm, my collegues and I stepped out of our tents to stretch our
legs. The wind was very strong from the northeast. We looked out at the Gulf and
saw waves of migrants coming in, struggling against the wind. Many were too tired
to make it the woods and flew into the grass and bushes in the dunes. We saw several
hundred birds arrive. You could walk among the dunes and see each bush with a mixture
of warblers, vireos, thrushes, tanagers, and cuckoos. Words cannot come close to
describing what it was like!
5) What advice can you provide to a student who might be interested in working
in your occupation some day?
Study! You will need anywhere from 4-12 years of college/graduate school, depending
on what you want to do. You will take lots of different biology classes, along with
math, chemistry, physics, and english. It won't be easy, but if it is what you want
to do, then it will be enjoyable and rewarding.
Volunteering at your local nature center, zoo, or museum will also help you gain
valuable experience working with and studying animals.
6) Any family members, including pets?
I am the youngest of two children. My sister is a writer and editor in New York City.
I was married in September, so I gained 2 sisters-in-law and 1 brother-in-law. We
have no pets yet, but hope to get a dog.
7) Favorite book(s), Favorite food(s), Any hobbies?
My hobbies include bird watching (duh!), photography, movies, and building model
airplanes. Some of my favorite authors are E. O. Wilson, Anne Rice, Michael Crichton,
Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson, and a lot of science fiction wrtiers. I also
like "The Far Side", "Bloom County", and "Calvin and Hobbs".
My favorite foods would probably be barbequed chicken, as well as pasta and Chinese/Thai
8) Other comments?
Whatever you want to do in life, make sure you enjoy it.
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