I grew up in New Jersey, and graduated from New York University, majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. I then earned a Masters and Ph.D. in plant ecology from Duke University. After two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines I taught for several years at Clark College (Atlanta) and West Virginia University, with a break between the two institutions for two years of post-doc in systems ecology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Georgia. Feeling the need for a career change, I enrolled in the medical school at West Virginia University, with the goal of becoming a pediatrician—having three young children at the time. That didn’t quite work out—with my returning to my roots by earning the M.D. with an emphasis in environmental medicine. I then spent about two decades with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Cincinnati in the areas of health effects of wastewater and drinking water treatment, and sewage sludge management. I am now retired in the mountains of western North Carolina, during which time I have taught several courses in human anatomy and physiology at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.
I have a number of publications resulting from my travels through life, on subjects including the soil arthropod food web, cadmium toxicity, the health effects of land application of sewage sludge, and even stochastic computer simulation methodology using pharmacokinetic models to quantify the health effects of toxics exposure. However the publication I am most proud of, and which is probably most relevant to this book, was the product of my early Peace Corps experience, and the subject of my Ph.D. dissertation: N.E. Kowal. 1966. Shifting cultivation, fire, and pine forest in the Cordillera Central of Luzon, Philippines. Ecological Monographs 36: 389-419. It represents an early documentation of how man has abused Earth’s natural communities, in this case, the montane rain forest.