Students interested in ecology, conservation biology, or wildlife management have the opportunity to be involved in a growing program in the Sterling College science department. Led by Dr. Jonathan Conard, the ecological studies program provides students the opportunity to get hands-on experience doing ecological research and participating in field-based programs.

Did You Know...

  • Students at Sterling College have been involved with an ongoing research project monitoring deer movement patterns and densities at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Work from the project has been featured on the Outdoor Channel Show "The Bone Collector" and in a special section of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks website. (click here)
  • As part of biology courses offered at Sterling, students have tracked Monarch butterfly migrations, monitored phenological changes in native plant species, and tracked water quality in the Arkansas River.
  • Students have designed and conducted independent research projects related to the responses of native grasses and crops to global climate change.Sterling College faculty regularly publish in scholarly journals, have a strong academic background in ecology and wildlife management and encourage student participation in field-work, research and independent projects.
  • Sterling College students have successfully been accepted to graduate programs ranging from Environmental Studies to Marine Biology.

Program News

Leonore Enfield receives grant from Kansas Academy of Science

Finding the time to deeply explore topics of study outside the walls of the classroom can prove to be challenging for many college students. For Sterling College student Leonore Enfield, passion provided an opportunity for further exploration in biology when she received the Kansas Academy of Science (KAS) Student Grant.

The KAS Student Research Grant Program was established in order to foster scientific research endeavors among undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students. The granted funds are used by students for research to support investigation in any scientific field. At the completion of their research, grant recipients are required to present their results at the Annual KAS Meeting that takes place each spring.

"What started out as being a great way to do some research and get my feet ‘wet' in the field has turned out to be an even greater endeavor, opportunity and blessing for me," said Enfield. She was one of five recipients of the grant and the only recipient that is not a student from a large research institution. Her successful grant proposal to the KAS rewarded her with a $500 grant allowing her to study small mammal responses to prairie restoration at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

Enfield and Tyler Wise of Clearwater, Kan., have already begun the process of compiling research for the project, having already completed two sessions of small mammal trapping which have provided photographs and other findings to begin diving deeper into research.

"Receiving a competitive research grant is a highly significant accomplishment for any scientist," said Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Jonathan Conard. "I couldn't be more impressed by the scientific rigor and enthusiasm that Leonore and Tyler have demonstrated throughout this project. Having the opportunity to do actual research is a great learning experience and exciting achievement."

Letting her passions guide her, Enfield hopes to make a change in the world with her research. "I was told once that if I wanted to change the world, I had to live the change I wanted to see happen. That is what I am trying to do."


If you are interested in ecological studies, a biology major from Sterling College can prepare students for the following careers:

  • Conservation biologist
  • Graduate school in ecology and related disciplines
  • Federal and state wildlife jobs including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and other government agencies.
  • Ecological research technician positions

Students interested in pursuing a career in these fields are advised to take the following courses as part of the biology curriculum:

  • Zoology
  • Environmental Science
  • Ecology
  • Wildlife Management
  • Vertebrate Biology
  • Botany

In addition, the following courses are recommended for students considering graduate school in ecology or related disciplines

  • General Chemistry I & II
  • Organic Chemistry I & II
  • Physics I & II
  • Elementary Statistics

If you are interested in the ecological studies program at Sterling College, please contact Dr. Jonathan Conard ( to learn more about the opportunities that are available.

Student Research Publications:

Conference Presentations:

  • Pitschmann, J.L. and J.M. Conard. 2016. Vigilance patterns of black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) in urban and rural colonies. 147th Annual Meeting of the Kansas Academy of Science, McPherson, KS.
  • Westerfield, J.H. and J.M. Conard. 2016. Food habits of mourning and Eurasian collared doves in central Kansas. 147th Annual Meeting of the Kansas Academy of Science, McPherson, KS.
  • Schmidt, M.C. and J.M. Conard. 2015. Response of waterfowl to disturbance and weather patterns. 146th Annual Meeting of the Kansas Academy of Science, Pittsburg, KS.
  • Kelley, H., R. Grafel, and J.M. Conard. 2015. The influence of reproductive status on the activity patterns of kangaroos in captivity. 146th Annual Meeting of the Kansas Academy of Science, Pittsburg, KS.
  • Buckwalter, A.K., J.M. Conard, R. Johnson, and N. Buckwalter. 2015. A comparison of urban and rural prairie dog densities. Central Plains Society of Mammalogists Annual Meeting.
  • Spencer, D.W. and J.M. Conard. 2014. Impacts of human disturbance on migratory waterfowl. 145th Annual Meeting of the Kansas Academy of Science, Emporia, KS.
  • Enfield, L.R., T.L. Wise, and J.M. Conard. 2011. The effects of prairie restoration on small mammals. Central Plains Society of Mammalogists Annual Meeting.