Oct 28, 2008

Biology professor honored for numerous achievements

by Danielle Talbert

Dr. Paul Sattler, chairman and professor of the Biology/Chemistry Department was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award from the Virginia Herpetological Society (VHS) at the 50th anniversary meeting on Oct. 4. The meeting was held at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Sattler has been a member of and has served in the VHS for the past 22 years. He has held the offices of president, vice president and secretary and treasurer. He has also served 10 years as the editor of the society’s journal, Catesbeiana.

Only three other Lifetime Achievement Awards have been given by the VHS, and they were to whom Sattler referred to as the “grandfathers of the VHS.” The first went to the founder of the society, the second to an early officer who had performed research for 30-40 years for the group and the third to the writer of the book “Reptiles of Virginia.”

Sattler got his award because of his possession of offices and work at the publication, but more due to his behind-the-scenes work of organizing meetings and surveys. He said that he is honored to be placed in the same group as these prestigious members.

The VHS is dedicated to conservation research and education on Virginia’s reptiles and amphibians. The society also advises the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries on the non-game species. Its members hold surveys throughout the state to record and photograph every reptile and amphibian in order to make a database, which will gauge the health of the animals and the human inhabitants of the area. Amphibians are a good indicator of pollution in an area because they are exposed to both land and water, according to Sattler.

Sattler’s interest in VHS sprang from it being what he called “the obvious outlet for interest in reptiles and amphibians.” He said that he feels he never grew up, and as a professor at Liberty, he still likes to play with frogs.

Sattler uses his membership in the VHS to expand his students’ knowledge in the subject. His familiarity also helps him better lead his field course in vertebrate natural history. He also uses undergraduate students that need credits for independent research to do field research through VHS for publication. Sattler’s first honor student was published in the Catesbeiana journal.

Sattler described the award meeting as “a reward and a roast.” He said a power point presentation was shown, which included a picture of a student member of the VHS, with Sattler in the background. He was told that while he always works behind the scenes, his work does not go unnoticed.

“It is particularly gratifying to do work that is not always visible,” Sattler said.


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