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.
Campus MailDrawer 3
Office143 Stanley Hall
Office HoursOpen door
BIOL 110: Ecological BiologyBIOL 226: Biological DiversityBIOL 350: Field BotanyBIOL 455: Population and Community EcologyAWPE 142: Introduction to Aikido
Broadly speaking, I study plants. More specifically, I study how plant populations grow and change over time and space (this makes me a population ecologist), and how changes in plant populations mediate and are mediated by interactions among plants (making me a community ecologist). I am motivated by a fascination with how patterns emerge from complex, interconnected, and constantly evolving ecological systems. I like to use ecological models to explore small-scale processes — such as competition among individual plants — and how they influence global-scale patterns — such as the species diversity on a continent.
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:
For a complete list of works, please see http://danatwater.com/cv/#publications
As I see it, life is short and precious, and I want to make my own life matter. I teach at Earlham because I get to foster the development of a generation of thinkers and leaders who will save the world. I also get to make my own contribution to improving human understanding of the natural systems that I love.
Earlham students are diverse. They are engaged, demanding, angry, mindful, frightened, earnest, intelligent, and, above all, motivated to make their world better. They challenge me to be better and to take them farther.
My favorite time is spent with my wife and two sons. I also teach Aikido, make 2-D visual art (mixed drawing/painting media), photograph plants, run marathons, and work on cars. I love backpacking, although I rarely make time for it these days. I like to be busy!