Manchester University
Oak Leaves

September 16, 2016


Dr. Suzanne Beyeler, professor of biology and environmental studies

Professor Hopes to Inspire Young Scientists

Destinee Boutwell

During her childhood, Dr. Suzanne Beyeler loved to sit in the woods and admire the patterns in the world around her. Now she has joined Manchester’s faculty as an assistant professor of biology and environmental studies with big dreams of stewarding that same curiosity, wide-eyed wonder and passion in the next generation of scientists. 

Beyeler hopes that in the upcoming years she can continue retired Professor Jerry Sweet-en’s work with watershed research and further develop the environmental studies program. She believes that it is crucial that students get training in the fieldwork of their area of study. “It’s important that we not just teach kids to become scientists but have them doing the actual sci-ence,” Beyeler said. She would really like to see Manchester bring in students from urban areas who are not as familiar with nature and give them a place to make discoveries that they may never have had the opportunity to have otherwise. She would also like to see Manchester develop a master’s program in environmental studies in order to further educate and empower scientists. 

Beyeler knew she wanted to teach rather than work exclusively in the field. “When I got my PhD, I always had in the back of my mind to become a professor and I have always had a soft spot for Indiana,” she said. She began her higher education at Goshen College in Goshen, IN, by earning her Bachelor’s degree with a major in biology and a minor in peace and justice studies. Beyeler noted that Manchester and Goshen are very similar in philosophy and ideologies and that is what drew her to this university. She believes that the opportunities Goshen College offered, such as opportunities to travel abroad and engages field practice, helped prepared her for her area of study. She liked that Manchester provided similar opportunities for students. “Manchester is a place where they encourage you not just to do a job for what you want to do and who you are but they want you to think about the bigger picture,” Beyeler said.  

And Beyeler certainly has been focused on the bigger picture. Before coming to Manchester University, she worked at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, as a biodiversity research and monitoring program coordinator, which involved working closely with the Hudson River Estuary Project. “I looked at the status and trends of wildlife species in the watershed to figure out if they were doing well,” she said. “If they were not doing well, I figured out why they were doing poorly and offered up conservation and management strategies to help species become more stable.” She worked with a diverse group of people from scientists and state officials to college in-terns and citizens. 

Beyeler noted that the world faces ecological problems and emphasized why people should care. “These issues regarding the resources and climate change and wildlife disappearing all come back and negatively impact us,” she said. Her work in Florida and New York has shown that she is trying to make a difference in her small corner of the big world. Beyeler is actively contributing to the conservation of the world’s resources and ecosystems. 

However, the loss of resources, climate change and disappearance of wildlife is not going to be fixed by one person. It is not even going be fixed in one generation. As she continues to do her own work in the field of biology and environmental science, Beyeler will also be inspiring the next generation of scientists to take up the mantle. “If you want to put it in grandiose terms and overstep what I can actually do, then that is exactly what I want to do,” said Beyeler humbly. “I realize that I am just one person, but I like to think big and think that those things can be done even if it would take a thousand people or ten thousand, but I’ll try anyway.”