Biology Department Hiring

The search is over; Heath Garris, PhD, is stepping up as the new Biology Professor after Dr. Jerome Wenger retired Spring of 2016.

Garris will start joining the faculty this July, teaching in the Fall of 2016. He will look over the environmental and organismal track of the department. Garris will start teaching Ecology, a sophomore-level class, and may start entomological and organismal classes that deals with insects, reptiles, and invertebrates.

During his application process, Garris, an ecologist, has provided ideas for research programs that will be compatible to be done in the Covenant community. “He has a lot of experience working with [experimental] stations, collect data, and interpret the broader findings from the combined data from your station and others,” Dr. Richard Nelson, Chair of the Biology Department said. Garris’ experience will allow students who are interested to join him in research.

According to Nelson, the extensive application and interview process with Garris proves that he is a right fit for the department. Other than positive feedbacks from previous students he has taught, Garris’ teaching demonstration and research seminar received positive evaluations from the College’s students and faculty alike.

Nelson also remarks that Garris’ passionate interest in faith integration made him stand out.

Garris currently consults for the remediation of a mine-influenced water and sediment spill that happened in Mount Polley, working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Associate Graduate Instructor at Thompson Rivers University, Canada.

Garris received his Bachelor of Science in Biology in Furman University, Masters in Biology in University of Alabama at Birmingham, and PhD in Integrated Bioscience in The University of Akron.

Previous jobs included Undergraduate teaching and research assistant in Furman, Graduate Teaching Assistant in University of Alabama and University of Akron, and Wetlands / GIS Specialist.

“He’s very friendly, very approachable,” Nelson mentions.

Jordan Delashmitt, a Freshman Biology major, said that even though the Biology Department doesn’t necessarily seem suffering with one professor down, the hiring might be a good idea if Garris “has the right credentials, and [is] good at [his] job.”

Dr. Wenger might still teach classes as an adjunct, depending on how Garris will acclimate to the college.

“Covenant is a special place,” said Nelson, contending that it takes professors up to one to two years to acclimate to the College’s environment and students.