Professor combines rafting and research

Professor Thomas Minckley seated on his raft. A hobby he enjoys when he’s not in class or working on his research. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Minckley.)

Thomas Minckley, Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, brings an esteemed resume to the Department of Geology and Geophysics through his teaching and research as a professor.

In 2008, Minckley started working at the university in the botany department. Almost 14 years later, he is now a head teacher.

As a researcher in Wyoming, Professor Minckley has participated in numerous publications. Many in reputable national and international journals.

His work “mainly focuses on the ecology of plant communities in the face of climate change and past disturbances”. Specifically in arid and semi-arid regions, making Wyoming a suitable location for his research.

He hopes that by studying how ecosystems have responded to stresses, such as drought and fire, we will be better equipped in the past to care for and conserve them, now and in the future.

“I probably learn more than my class,” Minckley said, explaining how he views teaching as a shared learning experience. He notes that it’s also a “way to get my research and thoughts out of my head.”

As for why he teaches, Minckley said, “teaching is a way to pass that on and keep working.”

When not engrossed in his college work, Minckley spends his time venturing the waterways on rafts.

For him, it’s a different way to interact with water than when he finds himself working with it for his conservation research.

“It’s nice to sit down as you get older,” he added with a smile. Speaking of peace, he finds rafting.

However, his escapades are sometimes anything but a pretty afternoon float. In 2019, he was part of a rafting expedition that covered more than 1,000 miles in 70 days, a trip that allowed him to mix work and play.

After spending his undergraduate and graduate studies in the western United States, Professor Minckley has now worked at the University of Wyoming for nearly 14 years.

Born in Arizona, he attended universities in the state before moving to the Pacific Northwest for higher education.

After earning her first bachelor’s degree in telecommunications in 1987, Minckley decided to go back to school and get her second.

Thanks to an upbringing in Arizona, he often found himself outdoors hiking and hiking, which eventually piqued his interest and brought him back to the classroom. This time in the fields of biology and ecology culminating in a degree in ecology and evolutionary biology in 1996.

After graduating with his undergraduate degree, he then pursued a Ph.D.

“Oregon is where the best people were to work for,” he said of the decision to attend the University of Oregon. An institution from which he will then obtain a master’s degree in 1999 and a doctorate. in 2003.

Upon completion of his doctorate, Minckley entered the field of teaching and research. Which would eventually bring him to the University of Wyoming.


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