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Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 3



143 Stanley Hall

Office Hours
Open door

Website Link

Dan Atwater

Assistant Professor of Biology


  • Biology
  • Art, Nature and Conservation Integrated Pathway
  • Sustainable Agriculture Integrated Pathway


  • Ph.D., University of Montana
  • B.S., University of Kansas

Selected Courses

BIOL 110: Ecological Biology
BIOL 226: Biological Diversity
BIOL 350: Field Botany
BIOL 455: Population and Community Ecology
AWPE 142: Introduction to Aikido


Dan Atwater is a father (hi Nate and William!), spouse, aikido teacher, visual artist, runner, auto enthusiast and community ecologist. He grew up at the University of Kansas and went to school there. Next, he worked at the Cornell Vet School studying clinical genetics, and after that he went to grad school in Montana to study plants. He still loves Montana and Montana plants. Later he toiled as a postdoctoral researcher in Reno, NV; College Station, TX; Blacksburg, VA; and Raleigh, NC. In 2018 he joined the biology faculty at Earlham and is loving it.

I wear a lot of hats at Earlham: I teach biology, manage the greenhouse and herbarium, and I also teach aikido classes and advise the Earlham Aikido Club as the Head Instructor of Indiana Ki Aikido, whose dojo is located on campus.

Research Projects

I am involved in many projects with varying degrees of activity and student involvement. In the summer I work mostly in the field. During other times of the year I am found on my computer running models. Student opportunities exist to pursue diverse questions, such as:

  • How does within-species diversity affect the species diversity and productivity of plant communities?
  • How does competitive ability evolve in plant communities?
  • What are the evolutionary and ecological responses of plant communities to invasion?
  • How and why do invasive species change ecologically when they cross continents?
  • How can we better forecast the future impact of invasive plants?