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Dr. Kyle Summers

Dr. Kyle Summers Awarded First Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Advancement Council Distinguished Professorship in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Dr. Kyle Summers, professor of biology at East Carolina University, has been named the first recipient of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Advancement Council Distinguished Professor in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

“I am extremely pleased and grateful to be the first recipient of this award,” said Summers. “My research interests are broad, and I hope to use the professorship as a platform to connect my main field of interest (evolution) to many threads of research that are pursued on this campus, including animal behavior, ecology, speciation, systematics, tropical biology, molecular genetics and genomics, infectious disease and medical science.”

Established through generous funding by the Harriot College’s Advancement Council, The Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Advancement Council Distinguished Professorship in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics is a valuable resource for the college’s natural science and mathematics departments. The award is conferred upon a professor for a period of five years, after which the title and funds will be passed on to another worthy faculty member in the natural sciences or mathematics.

Any individual chosen as a recipient of the professorship is expected to fulfill specific duties, including 1) be actively engaged in significant research and publication in his or her scientific and/or mathematical area; 2) teach at least one course per term during the regular academic year; 3) communicate the results of his or her research to the university community through lectures and/or presentations; and 4) lead the university community to understand more fully the importance of the sciences and mathematics in higher education and day-to-day life.

“I think the establishment of this award will go a long way toward highlighting and promoting the importance of scientific research on this campus,” stated Summers. 

Throughout his 15 years at ECU, Summers has taught a range of courses, including evolution, evolutionary ecology, evolutionary medicine, evolution and infectious disease, genetics, behavioral ecology and tropical ecology. Exhibiting his love for knowledge, Summers has mentored many students by serving as committee chairperson for 13 graduate students and as a faculty member on 24 graduate student thesis and dissertation committees.

Summers’ research on poison frogs has garnered international recognition, with frequent highlights in National Geographic magazine, BBC Wildlife and Scientific American. He has attracted attention for his research on the evolution of monogamy and for his research in evolutionary medicine. Within the past 10 years, Summers has received nearly 20 grants that total more than $740,000 in funding. He has co-authored more than 70 journal articles and 50 scientific papers, and he has been an invited presenter of more than 40 seminars in his field.

Contributing to the professional realm, Summers is a member of the Animal Behavior Society, American Society of Naturalists, International Society of Behavioral Ecology, Society for the Study of Evolution, Research and Analysis Network for Neotropical Amphibians, National Center for Science Education and the Sigma Xi Society. In 2008, he was appointed to the editorial board of the journal, Ideas in Ecology and Evolution.

Summers is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where he received his doctoral degree in biology in 1990, and he is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he received his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1984. After postdoctoral research appointments at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Queen’s University, Cambridge University and the University of California at Davis, Summers joined the faculty of ECU in 1996 as an assistant professor of biology.

For additional information, contact Summers at 252-328-6304 or summersk@ecu.edu.