Graduate Faculty Spotlight - Daniel McGarvey

Dan McGarvey riding a bicycleDr. Daniel McGarvey is a graduate faculty member in VCU Life Sciences.  Dr. McGarvey teaches in the Center for Environmental Studies.  Read how an interest in streams led him to teaching today:

Describe your education (BS, MS, PhD):

PhD (The University of Alabama); MS (Penn State University); BA (Wittenberg University)

Describe your current career/research interests.

I'm a freshwater ecologist who studies the structure and function of running water ecosystems. This work encompasses a pretty broad range of sub-topics, including limnology and stream ecology, fisheries science, basic organismal biology, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, biogeography, macroecology, and ecological modeling. I also wear a policy hat at times.

How did you become interested in this field?

Not entirely sure. I was always interested in streams. But I started college planning to go to Med School. About half way through, I realized that ecology was much more appealing to me.

What do you like most about teaching graduate students at VCU?

Teaching grad students allows you to cover much more sophisticated material. It can actually serve as a useful opportunity to check your own expert-level knowledge and to stay current.

What advice would you give prospective students about pursuing a graduate degree at VCU?

Don't go into Grad School expecting your program to "show you a career path". Grad School is only a worthwhile investment when the student has a (semi-)clear understanding of what he/she expects to get out of it and has the necessary maturity and motivation to aggressively pursue those goals. A very productive grad student can accomplish an amazing number of professional achievements, given the abundant professional resources that will be available. But the opposite is also entirely possible: a "wandering" grad student who does not understand what he/she needs to accomplish and is only in a holding pattern to avoid the real world will flounder and waste the experience (and time and money).