Ben Pierce

Notable Achievements

Professor of Biology and Lillian Nelson Pratt Chair Ben Pierce published an article titled “Within-Spring Movement of the Georgetown Salamander (Eurycea naufragia)” in the August 2018 issue of Herpetological Conservation and Biology. The article was coauthored with former Southwestern students Areli Gutierrez ’15 and Samuel Guess ’17.

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Expertise

Ecology, evolution, genetics of amphibians

Benjamin Pierce received a B.S. in Biology from Southern Methodist University and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. He worked as assistant professor at Connecticut College from 1980-1984, and then took a position on the faculty at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he taught for 20 years. In 2005, Ben joined the faculty at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX, where he is Professor of Biology and holder of the Lillian Nelson Pratt Chair.  

Ben is a population geneticist who conducts genetic, ecological, and evolutionary research on amphibians. He has authored 43 articles in research journals and four books, including Genetics: A Conceptual Approach, a general genetics textbook that is now in its 6th edition. His genetics textbooks have been adopted at over 300 colleges and universities and have been translated into 5 foreign languages.

Serving as President of the Texas Academy of Science from 2010-2011, Ben is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, and is a Fellow of the Texas Academy of Science. He serves on the editorial board of Bioscience. He has received $900,000 in research and teaching grants from the National Science Foundation, the 3M Foundation, the W. M. Keck Foundation National Geographic Society, the US National Park Service, and the Williamson County Conservation Foundation. 

Ben was Associate Dean for Sciences at Baylor from 1996-2002, during which he coordinated planning and programming for Baylor University’s new $105 million multidisciplinary sciences building. At Southwestern University, Ben currently coordinates academic planning for a new addition and renovation to the science building. He conducts research with his undergraduate students on development of better sampling techniques for amphibians and on the ecology and evolution of the endemic Georgetown salamander, Eurycea naufragia. He teaches courses in genetics, evolution, methods in ecology and evolution, biology capstone, and a first-year seminar course.

Awards:

  • Exemplary Teaching Award at Southwestern University, Division of Higher Education of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, United Methodist Church (2012)
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Fellow of the Texas Academy of Science
  • Benjamin Pierce received a B.S. in Biology from Southern Methodist University and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. He worked as assistant professor at Connecticut College from 1980-1984, and then took a position on the faculty at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he taught for 20 years. In 2005, Ben joined the faculty at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX, where he is Professor of Biology and holder of the Lillian Nelson Pratt Chair.  

    Ben is a population geneticist who conducts genetic, ecological, and evolutionary research on amphibians. He has authored 43 articles in research journals and four books, including Genetics: A Conceptual Approach, a general genetics textbook that is now in its 6th edition. His genetics textbooks have been adopted at over 300 colleges and universities and have been translated into 5 foreign languages.

    Serving as President of the Texas Academy of Science from 2010-2011, Ben is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, and is a Fellow of the Texas Academy of Science. He serves on the editorial board of Bioscience. He has received $900,000 in research and teaching grants from the National Science Foundation, the 3M Foundation, the W. M. Keck Foundation National Geographic Society, the US National Park Service, and the Williamson County Conservation Foundation. 

    Ben was Associate Dean for Sciences at Baylor from 1996-2002, during which he coordinated planning and programming for Baylor University’s new $105 million multidisciplinary sciences building. At Southwestern University, Ben currently coordinates academic planning for a new addition and renovation to the science building. He conducts research with his undergraduate students on development of better sampling techniques for amphibians and on the ecology and evolution of the endemic Georgetown salamander, Eurycea naufragia. He teaches courses in genetics, evolution, methods in ecology and evolution, biology capstone, and a first-year seminar course.

    Awards:

    • Exemplary Teaching Award at Southwestern University, Division of Higher Education of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, United Methodist Church (2012)
    • Phi Beta Kappa
    • Fellow of the Texas Academy of Science
  • Population genetics, ecology, and evolution; amphibian biology; science education

    Grants:

    Ecological Studies of the Georgetown Salamander, Eurycea naufragia. $131,557. Williamson County Conservation Foundation, 2010-2015.

    Student-Community Collaborative Research and Creative Works for the San Gabriel River Trail (with Michael Kamen and Laura Hobgood-Oster). $50,000. 3M Foundation, 2006-2010.

    Equipment for Bioinformatics and Biochemistry Programs at Baylor University. $500,000. W. M. Keck Foundation, 2000.

    Development of a Science Leadership Course for Community-Based Research (With Larry Lehr, Dan Wivagg, Ray Wilson, and Joe Yelderman) $49,500. 3M Foundation, 1999-2001.

    Development of an Integrated, Multidisciplinary Science Literacy Course for Comprehensive Universities. (With Ann Rushing) $101,620. National Science Foundation, 1995.

    Laboratory Activities for an Integrated, Multidisciplinary Science Literacy Course. (With Ann Rushing) $80,000. National Science Foundation, 1996.

    Acid Sensitivity of Eggs and Larvae of Pothole-dwelling Amphibians From Canyonlands National Park. $3985. National Park Service, 1990-1992.

    Geographic Variation in Acid Tolerance of Wood Frogs. $4,125. National Geographic Society, 1984.

  • Author of :

    Genetics: A Conceptual Approach, a leading college textbook in genetics, now in its 6th edition.

    Genetics Essentials: Concepts and Connections, another college textbook in genetics, now in its 4th edition.

    Transmission and Population Genetics, a college textbook.

    The Family Genetics Sourcebook, a tradebook about genetics.

    Author of 43 research articles in peer-reviewed journals.

    Recent Representative Publications:

    Gutierrez, A. M., S. T. Guess, and B. A. Pierce. 2018. Within-spring movement of the Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia). Herpetological Conservation and Biology 13:383-390.

    McEntire, K. D. and B. A. Pierce. 2015. Eurycea naufragia (Georgetown salamander). Behavior. Herpetological Review 46:209.

    Pierce, B. A., K. D. McEntire, and A. E. Wall. 2014. Population size, movement, and reproduction of the Georgetown Salamander, Eurycea naufragiaHerpetological Conservation and Biology 9:137-145.

    Hua, J. and B. A. Pierce. 2013. Lethal and sublethal effects of salinity on three common Texas amphibians. Copeia 2013:563-567.

    Pierce, B. A. and A. S. Hall. 2013. Call latency as a measure of calling intensity in anuran auditory surveys. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 8:199-206.

    Biagas, T. D., A. S. Hall, A. L. Ritzer, and B. A. Pierce. 2012. Time of day does not affect detection in visual encounter surveys of a spring-dwelling salamander, Eurycea naufragiaSouthwestern Naturalist 57:162-165.

    Pierce, B.A., J. L. Christiansen, A. L. Ritzer, and T. A. Jones. 2010. Ecology of Georgetown salamanders (Eurycea naufragia) within a spring flow. The Southwestern Naturalist 55:291-297.2008. .

    Granda, J. R., R. M. Pena and B. A. Pierce. 2008. Effects of disturbance, position of observer, and moonlight on efficiency of anuran call surveys. Applied Herpetology 5:253-263.

    Pierce, B. A. 2008. Developing a sustainable research program for tenure. Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly 29:23-28.

    Honeycutt, B. B. and B. A. Pierce. 2007. Illustrating probability in genetics with hands-on learning: making the math real. American Biology Teacher 69:533-540.

    Pierce, B. A. and K. J. Gutzwiller. 2007. Interobserver variation in frog call surveys. Journal of Herpetology 41:424-429.

    Pierce, B. A. and K. J. Gutzwiller. 2004. Auditory sampling of frogs: detection efficiency in relation to survey duration. Journal of Herpetology 38:495-500.

    Mullins, M. L., B. A. Pierce, and K. J. Gutzwiller. 2004. Assessment of quantitative enclosure sampling of larval amphibians. Journal of Herpetology 38:6-12.

  • Recent Representative Presentations:

    Pierce, B. A. Evolution and ecology of the Georgetown salamander. Invited seminar, Richland College, Dallas, Texas. Nov. 8, 2017.

    Gonzales, D. and B. A. Pierce. 2017. Tail loss in two populations of the Georgetown Salamander (Eurycea naufragia). Texas Academy of Science, Belton, TX, March 3-4, 2017.

    Pierce, B. A. Facilities for inquiry-based learning. Transforming STEM Pedagogy through Active Learning. Georgetown, TX, June 1-3, 2016.

    Pierce, B. A. and S. Guess. Reproduction of the Georgetown salamander, Eurycea naufragia. Eurycea Conference, Georgetown, TX, January 8, 2016.

    Guess, S. and B. A. Pierce. Reproduction of the Georgetown salamander, Eurycea naufragia. Texas Academy of Science, Junction, TX, March 3-4, 2016.

    Gutierrez, A. and B. A. Pierce.  Dispersal of the Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia) within two spring sites.  Texas Academy of Science, San Antonio, TX.  March 6-7, 2015.

    McEntire, K. D. and B. A. Pierce.  Nocturnal or diurnal? Day and night activity patterns of the Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia).  Texas Academy of Sciences, Kerville, Texas.  February 28-March2, 2013.

    McEntire, K. D., J. W. Harren, A. L. Hill, R. C. Cross, and B. A. Pierce.  Potential use of natural melanophore patterns for recognition of individual Georgetown salamanders (Eurycea naufragia).  Texas Academy of Sciences, Kerville, Texas.  February 28-March2, 2013.

    Pierce, B. A., K. McEntire, and J. Herran.  Population size, movement, and reproduction of the Georgetown salamander, Eurycea naufragia, a species of conservation concern in central Texas.  World Congress of Herpetology, Vancouver, BC, August 8-14, 2012.

    Hall, A. S. and B. A. Pierce.  Call latency in anuran breeding call surveys in central Texas.  World Congress of Herpetology, Vancouver, BC, August 8-14, 2012

    McEntire, K. D., B. A. Pierce, and A. E. Wall.  Reproductive timing of Eurycea naufragia at two spring sites.  Ecological Society of America, Portland, OR, August 5-10, 2012.

    Pierce, B. A. and K. McEntire.  Update on ecological studies of the Georgetown salamander, Eurycea naufragia.  EuryceAlliance, San Marcos, Texas.  May 25, 2012.

    McEntire, K., Wall, A., and B. Pierce.  Reproductive timing of the Georgetown salamander, Eurycea naufragia. EuryceAlliance, San Marcos, Texas.  May 25, 2012.

    McEntire, K., Wall, A., and B. Pierce.  Reproductive timing of Eurycea naufragia at two spring sites. Texas Academy of Sciences, Alpine, Texas.  March 2-4, 2012.

    Wall, A., McEntire, K., and B. Pierce.  Visual encounter surveys show limited movement of the Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia).  Texas Academy of Sciences, Alpine, Texas.  March 2-4, 2012.


In the News

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