- SNRE Annual Review 2012
- Phase III Document
- Academic Programs
- Undergraduate Study
- Graduate Study
- McGinnies Scholarship
- SNRE Awards
- GIS Certificate
- For Faculty
- Facilities & Resources
Charles van Riper III
Area of Expertise:Ornithology, wildlife disease, science policy interface, migration
Charles van Riper spent his formative years roaming the woods throughout the Hudson River Valley in New York. The many hours that he spent observing wildlife as a young person, instilled in him a love for nature and provided a road map that he would follow throughout his life.
After graduating from Mahopac Central High School in upstate New York, he entered college. After being tutored at Juliard, Charles transferred to the SUNY music program. But then following his love of nature, he moved to Fort Collins, Colorado to study wildlife management at Colorado State University. For the next eight years he was trained by some of the preeminent biologists in the western US. He studied ornithology under Dr. Paul H. Baldwin, who told stories about the spectacular adaptive radiation of the Hawaiian honeycreepers. This peaked Charles' interest and in 1968 he moved to the island of Hawaii. While teaching biology at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Kamuela, Hawaii, he began his first intensive study of birds, setting a trajectory for the remainder of his life. He taught his first ornithology class in 1969 to a select group of students, and many of those students have gone on to successful careers, but all still have a deep interest in the study of birds.
Charles then went to complete his doctoral research under the guidance of Dr. Andrew J. Berger at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. His PhD dissertation was completed in 1979 on two species of Hawaiian native birds (honeycreepers). It was in graduate school that Charles met his wife, Sandra Jean Guest, another ornithology graduate student. Following a post-doctoral experience with Dr. Clifford Smith in Hawaii, where Charles and his wife Sandra worked out the complex picture of the impact that introduced diseases were having on the native Hawaiian birds, he moved to the University of California, Davis.
At UC Davis, Charles started the first California Cooperative Parks Studies Unit, and began his 20-year career with the National Park Service. In California Charles continued his research on avian disease and addressed many of the pressing issues affecting bird communities in national parks throughout the state.
In 1989 the National Park Service asked Charles to initiate another Cooperative Parks Studies Unit, this time at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. He established this unit based on an ecosystem concept, covering all national park areas within the fours states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah) that comprise the Colorado Plateau. Charles built this unit from one individual, to a team of 42 researchers, who as an integrated research team, solved natural resources problem throughout the southwestern US.
In 2003 Charles was again asked to assist with a university based research station, this time with the Sonoran Desert Research Station at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. Today he serves as Unit Leader and Professor in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Resources in the School of Natural Resources