Professor of Biology
Ph.D., University of Michigan
M.S., University of Florida
A.B., Brown University
In his Ecology and Environmental Science courses, Professor of Biology Drew Barton teaches students fundamental scientific principles and how to apply them to real environmental problems. This helps students turn what they learn into action and tells them that they can make a difference, not just after they graduate, but while they’re students at UMF.
In his Forest Ecology and Conservation course, for example, students spend many hours in the classroom and outside in the snow, learning to identify tree species and forest types, mastering ecological and forestry field skills, observing harvesting and management, and documenting the variety of natural ecosystems in the region. They then pursue their own projects, which have included the ecology of vernal pools, the forests of nearby Mt. Blue State Park and Sugarloaf, improving local woodlots open to the public for recreation, and practical guides to help anyone learn to identify trees.
Outside the Classroom: Innovation and Excitement — Putting Theory into Practice
In addition to his role as a teacher and researcher, Barton is also a faculty coordinator of the University’s Sustainable Campus Coalition, a faculty-staff-student group he helped establish in 2001. In collaboration with other campus groups and Farmington community organizations, the Sustainable Campus Coalition promotes a wide range of activities that increase the environmental sustainability of the campus and community.
As part of this work, Barton regularly collaborates with students on a variety of projects, such as improving recycling on campus, reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions and energy use and costs, renovating the campus arboretum, enhancing the food waste composting program in the dining halls, promoting local foods and agriculture, and promoting UMF’s impressive sustainability accomplishments across the state and nation.
A True Academic — Areas of Special Interest
Barton’s scholarly interests include the study of the ecology of forests. His research focuses on why forests are different from one place to another and how they change over hundreds and thousands of years, including how climate change is likely to impact forests. His goal is to reach conclusions that will aid in the conservation or restoration of native species and forest ecosystems.
Most of his research is in Maine, especially in coastal forests, such as the open pine forests on Great Wass Island and on Phippsburg peninsula. Those projects, funded by The Nature Conservancy, aim to understand the ecology of forests that support uncommon and important species in the state. Barton also continues his long-term research on the fire ecology of pine-oak forests in the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona. All of these projects involve UMF students, who work as research assistants and collaborators.
Respected in the Field — Noteworthy Accomplishments
Drew Barton has published more than two dozen scholarly articles, most recently, “Reconstructing the Past: Maine Now and Then” in Northern Woodlands; “Madrean Pine-Oak Forest in Arizona: Altered Fire Regimes, Altered Communities” in a U.S.D.A. Forest Service book; “Nonindigenous invasive woody plants in a rural New England town” in Biological Invasions; “Dynamics of jack pine at the southern range boundary in downeast Maine” in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research; and “Use of CART analysis to differentiate pollen of red pine (Pinus resinosa) and jack pine (P. banksiana) in New England” in Quaternary Research. These latter three papers included UMF students as co-authors.
In 2012, Barton’s book, The Changing Nature of the Maine Woods (with Alan White and Charles Cogbill), was published by University Press of New England and won a 2013 Maine Literary Award, the John N. Cole Award for Maine-themed Nonfiction.