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Featured Faculty: Tim Wakefield, Marine Biology

Posted by Paul Wiemerslage in College Program in Faculty | Nov 09, 2015

Although oceans cover most of the Earth, and are home to some of its most fascinating creatures, their study requires expert guidance and skill. Tim Wakefield provides such expertise to students in Au Sable’s Marine Biology course, offered each summer at the Pacific Rim Institute’s Campus on Whidbey Island (Washington). Currently Professor of Biology at John Brown University (Arkansas), Tim brings lifelong experience and in depth professional training and study to students in his Marine Biology course.

Tim’s education in marine life started early in his career. After receiving his BS in Biology from Union University (Tennessee), Tim earned an MA from the University of Missouri – Kansas City, working his way through graduate school there as a trainer of bottle-nosed dolphins at Kansas City’s Worlds of Fun Amusement Park. After gaining teaching experience at Donnelly College (Kansas), Southern Union Community College (Alabama) and Auburn University (Alabama), Tim earned a PhD from Auburn University, studying marine dinoflagellates and their symbiotic relationships to anemones. He joined the faculty of John Brown University in 2000, where he has taught Biological Sciences, Honors Biology, Animal Biology, Marine Biology, Human Anatomy, Animal Physiology, Global Environmental Stewardship, and Faith and Science. Tim’s ongoing research studies and experience with marine organisms is increasingly eclectic, including cell-to-cell communication in cnidarian symbioses, heliozoan locomotion, marine invertebrate development, and cetacean behavior.

For all his diverse expertise, Tim’s passion remains marine biology. His marine biology classes allow students to interact with marine life close-up, whether teaching on Whidbey Island or in his own course at John Brown, where his students take a Spring Break lab trips to the Florida Keys. As one student recalled of the Au Sable course experience, “There were so many things we learned in this course in such a short time. Tim was super enthusiastic and knowledgeable about so much! It inspired me to work hard and learn with my full potential.”

Drawing on his own experience of teaching, research and working in the field of marine biology, Tim believes that the most valuable element of this course is helping students make the connections between land and sea.  “Many students have little to no knowledge of how the marine environment effects the terrestrial environment.  The food that we eat, our weather patterns and climate, even the very ground that we stand upon is influenced by the world’s oceans.  To not have at least a basic understanding of this leaves a person with an incomplete picture of God’s good design for Earth.” In Marine Biology, Tim brings every student to a deeper appreciation of these connections.