Environmentally-Minded Biology Professor to Keynote Research Conference

2/5/2020

Dr. Tom Chesnes, a biology professor, frequently involves students in his field research.Dr. Tom Chesnes, a biology professor who studies estuaries and salt marshes, will keynote the University’s annual Interdisciplinary Research Conference March 17-18.

The conference gives students and faculty across disciplines the opportunity to present their scholarly work to the University community. Chesnes will begin the conference 11 a.m. March 17 in the Lassiter Rotunda of the Warren Library with a message entitled “Tribalism and the Perils of Critical Thinking.”

Chesnes, winner of the 2015 Charles & Hazel Corts Award for Outstanding Teaching, is a highly-published researcher who routinely invites his students to join him in his fieldwork. His address will explore what happens when critical thinking leads us to differ with our tribes — people of the same family, faith or politics, he said.

“As believers, we can rest in the truth that all truth is God’s truth,” Chesnes said. “As we recognize that, we lose some of that fear of bumping up against tribal boundaries.”

The peril arises when we’re pressured into different tribes because of our ideas, he said.

PBA’s role as a Christian University includes fostering critical thinking. Chesnes elaborated on that topic, and the compatibility he sees between faith and science, during PBA’s Christian University Lecture Series this fall.

Katie Swick, a student at the time, and Dr. Thomas Chesnes prepare to do seagrass research in John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. Because of their research, the Lake Worth Cove in the northern tip of the Lake Worth Lagoon was designated as the most biodiverse seagrass community in the Western Hemisphere.Undergraduate students have aided Chesnes with research on seagrass in the Lake Worth Lagoon, invasive Burmese pythons in the Everglades and oysters and seagrass among the mangrove islands in the South Cove Natural Area near downtown West Palm Beach.

“All of those projects, those students are in graduate school or working in an environmental field,” Chesnes said.

At the research conference, poster presentations will follow the keynote address until 1 p.m. Tuesday. Undergraduate and graduate students and faculty oral presentations are 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday and noon to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

A copy of “Enlightening Minds: Research Review 2019,” a companion publication, will be available at the conference registration table.

Photo 1: Dr. Tom Chesnes, a biology professor, frequently involves students in his field research.

Photo 2: Katie Swick '15, a student at the time, and Dr. Thomas Chesnes prepare to do seagrass research in John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. Because of their research, the Lake Worth Cove in the northern tip of the Lake Worth Lagoon was designated as the most biodiverse seagrass community in the Western Hemisphere.