Drew Kerkhoff joined Kenyon's faculty in 2005 after earning a Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico and completing a postdoc at the University of Arizona. He is a quantitative ecologist whose research is motivated by two key environmental challenges: global change (including climate and land use) and biodiversity conservation. He leads the Kenyon Macroecology Lab, where students use computational and field-based approaches to analyze the distribution and evolution of plant biodiversity and the functional role of Earth's vegetation in the global carbon cycle.

Along with his research, Professor Kerkhoff also works to improve the quantitative, computational and data-intensive components of the biology curriculum, to better integrate writing instruction into science education, and to increase public understanding of evolution, biodiversity and global change.

Areas of Expertise

Scaling and macroecology, plant and insect herbivore communities


2002 — Doctor of Philosophy from Univ New Mexico Albuquerque

1997 — Master of Science from Univ New Mexico Albuquerque

1990 — Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University

Courses Recently Taught

This is the first laboratory course a student takes and is a prerequisite for all upper-division laboratory courses. Students are introduced to the processes of investigative biology and scientific writing. It is not designed to accompany any particular core lecture course. Laboratories cover topics presented in the core lecture courses, BIOL 115 and 116, and introduce a variety of techniques and topics, including field sampling, microscopy, PCR, gel electrophoresis, enzyme biochemistry, physiology, evolution and population biology. The course emphasizes the development of inquiry skills through active involvement in experimental design, data collection, statistical analysis, integration of results with information reported in the literature and writing in a format appropriate for publication. The year culminates in six-week student-designed investigations that reinforce the research skills developed during the year. Evaluation is based on short reports, quizzes, lab performance and scientific papers, as well as oral and written presentations based on the independent project. Enrollment is limited to 16 students in each section. Prerequisite: completion or concurrent enrollment in BIOL 115 or equivalent. Required for the major.

Energy flow is a unifying principle across a range of living systems, from cells to ecosystems. With energy flow as a major theme, this course covers macromolecules, cells, respiration and photosynthesis, physiology and homeostasis, population and community interactions, and ecosystems. Throughout the course, the diversity of life is explored. The course also introduces students to the process of scientific thinking through discussion of research methodology and approaches. This course is required for the major and as such, Biology majors should take this class prior to the junior year. No prerequisite. Offered every year. Required for the major although AP or IB credit can be applied against this course.

Ecology is the study of the distribution and abundance of organisms and the structure and dynamics of the biosphere. Topics will include physiological ecology, population ecology, competition, predator-prey systems, mutualism, succession, energy and nutrient dynamics, and the ecology of communities, ecosystems and the biosphere. We also will explore the influence of humans on natural systems. Students will use theoretical models and primary literature to supplement the text, lectures and discussions. Co-enrollment in BIOL 229 is highly recommended. This counts toward the upper-level environmental biology requirement for the biology major and as an elective for the environmental studies major. Prerequisite: BIOL 115 or equivalent or permission of instructor.

This course examines techniques for studying ecological principles in the field and laboratory, with primary emphasis on terrestrial systems. Students will learn experimental design, sampling protocols and quantitative methods including spatial analysis with geographic information systems. Topics may include limits to distribution, interactions with the physical environment, population dynamics, species interactions, carbon sequestration and biodiversity. Studies will include physically demanding fieldwork in local habitats in varying weather conditions. Prerequisite: BIOL 109Y-110Y, BIOL 115, and completion or concurrent enrollment in BIOL 228 or permission of instructor. This counts toward the upper-level laboratory requirement for the biology major and as an elective for the environmental studies major.

This is a comprehensive course in the large-scale history and dynamics of the biosphere. The course will focus on ecoinformatics and macroecology, using computational approaches to describe and explain general patterns in the distribution, abundance and functioning of organisms. Special attention will be given to geographical patterns of biodiversity and their basis in both ecological (dispersal, competition) and evolutionary (speciation, extinction) processes. The course will also examine the large-scale interactions between Homo sapiens and the rest of the biosphere. Most of the reading will be drawn from recent primary literature. Students will develop data science skills including data archiving and manipulation, literate coding, visualization and analysis, reproducibility, and code repositories. This counts toward the upper-level environmental biology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: BIOL 228, 241, 251, 253 or 261 or permission of instructor.

This course continues the honors research project and gives attention to scientific writing and the mechanics of producing a thesis. A thesis is required and is defended orally to an outside examiner. The letter grade is determined by the instructor and project advisor in consultation with the department. Permission of instructor and department chair required. Prerequisite: BIOL 385 and 497.

In biological sciences, mathematical models are becoming increasingly important as tools for turning biological assumptions into quantitative predictions. In this course, students will learn how to fashion and use these tools to explore questions ranging across the biological sciences. We will survey a variety of dynamic modeling techniques, including both discrete and continuous approaches. Biological applications may include population dynamics, molecular evolution, ecosystem stability, epidemic spread, nerve impulses, sex allocation and cellular transport processes. The course is appropriate both for math majors interested in biological applications and for biology majors who want the mathematical tools necessary to address complex, contemporary questions. As science is becoming an increasingly collaborative effort, biology and math majors will be encouraged to work together on many aspects of the course. Coursework will include homework, problem-solving exercises and short computational projects. Final independent projects will require the development and extension of an existing biological model selected from the primary literature. This course will build on (but not be limited by) an introductory-level knowledge base in both math and biology. Interested biology and math majors lacking a prerequisite are encouraged to consult with the instructor. Prerequisite: STAT 106 or MATH 111 or 112 (or any math or statistics AP credit of 4 or 5) and either BIOL 115 or 116. Offered every other year.

Individual study is a privilege reserved for students who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a research project on a topic not regularly offered in the curriculum. It is intended to supplement, not take the place of, coursework. Individual study cannot be used to fulfill requirements for the major. Individual studies will earn 0.25–0.50 units of credit. To qualify, a student must identify a member of the mathematics department willing to direct the project. The professor, in consultation with the student, will create a tentative syllabus (including a list of readings and/or problems, goals and tasks) and describe in some detail the methods of assessment (e.g., problem sets to be submitted for evaluation biweekly; a 20-page research paper submitted at the course's end, with rough drafts due at given intervals, and so on). The department expects the student to meet regularly with his or her instructor for at least one hour per week. All standard enrollment/registration deadlines for regular college courses apply. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar's deadline. Permission of instructor and department chair required. No prerequisite.\n\n

This is a basic course in statistics. The topics to be covered are the nature of statistical reasoning, graphical and descriptive statistical methods, design of experiments, sampling methods, probability, probability distributions, sampling distributions, estimation and statistical inference. Confidence intervals and hypothesis tests for means and proportions will be studied in the one- and two-sample settings. The course concludes with inference regarding correlation, linear regression, chi-square tests for two-way tables and one-way ANOVA. Statistical software will be used throughout the course, and students will be engaged in a wide variety of hands-on projects. No prerequisite. Offered every semester.