David Ward, Ph.D.

Twenty-nine Kent State faculty members have been named to be in the top 2% of scientists in the world based on a recent study published by Stanford University scholars.

The report, published in the PLOS Biology Journal, evaluated more than six million scientists across 22 different fields and 176 sub-fields from 1996 until 2019. The top 2% list is made up of more than 100,000 most-cited scientists who have authored at least five scientific papers.

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It's more important to enjoy what you are doing.

Questions & Answers

Why did you decide to pursue your field of research?

I have always been interested in natural history and the environment.

What would you tell a student at the beginning of their academic career?

Get interested in natural history. It's the basis for being a good ecologist.

Tell us a little about your research:

I study plants, particularly invasive plants and those plants that are native but are expanding their range. I currently have an NSF grant with 4 colleagues on the range-expanding tree, the eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana). This species is the most common conifer in eastern North America and is now expanding its range across the Great Plains, converting grasslands to woodlands.

What are you hoping to accomplish?

To understand how best to control this species and other invasive plants.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Learn the natural history of the organisms. Use statistics wisely to understand the ecological patterns. Work on writing well.

Who is someone you admire, and why?

Robert Whittaker, Cornell University. He knew his plants well, he understood ecology, he appreciated statistics, and he wrote very well.

Do you have any skills or talents most people don’t know about?

My skills lie in integrating among topics in ecology and evolution. I love using historical photographs of the environment to better understand what environments used to look like. I am very interested in using U.S. Civil War photographs of the environment to examine how environments have changed.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Hiking the fall hiking spree in Summit county, travelling and reading.

What does it mean to you to be included in the top 2% in your field?

It's nice to hear about, but it's more important to enjoy what you are doing.

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