Skip Sub Menu

Dr. Thomas Rosburg

Professor, Ecology and Botany
Office Location: 316 Olin Hall

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Rosburg arrived at Drake in 1996. He has a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Iowa State University. A Master of Science in Plant Ecology and a Bachelor of Science in Fish and Wildlife Biology were also earned at Iowa State. Early in his career, he worked as a wildlife biologist for the Bureau of Land Management (Wyoming), the Fish and Wildlife Service (Colorado) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Dr. Rosburg grew up on a farm in western Iowa. From 1983 to 1986 he farmed on the family farm established by his great-grandfather while implementing and investigating methods of sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Rosburg teaches numerous courses, primarily those in ecology, botany, biological research and statistics, natural history and nature photography and regularly incorporates field trips in his classes to enhance learning opportunities. He frequently teaches summer courses at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory located near Spirit Lake, Iowa, and serves as the Drake Campus Coordinator for Iowa Lakeside Lab. Lakeside offers a wide range of field courses that are available to Drake students. Dr. Rosburg’s research includes an array of topics within plant ecology, most notably studies aimed towards understanding the factors that affect the species composition and structure of plant communities in prairie, forest and wetland ecosystems. Examples of important projects include:

  • Effects of fire, mowing and herbicide on the restoration of a sedge meadow.
  • Community composition and structure of Iowa’s native ecosystems for Ecological Site descriptions
  • Effects of cattle grazing (as surrogates for bison) on the species composition of native prairie and reconstructed prairie
  • Seed bank composition and ecology of prairie, forest and wetland ecosystems’
  • Impacts of dredge pile deposition on floodplain ecosystems on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers
  • Effects of goat browsing on the species composition and microclimates in oak savanna restoration
  • Floristic inventories and application of plant conservatism to assess ecosystem quality

Dr. Rosburg has a Collaborator Faculty appointment with Iowa State University and has served on the program committee for ISU graduate students, providing expertise in prairie and plant ecology. He has served as a mentor for over 70 Drake students in conducting research for their undergraduate theses or independent studies. Dr. Rosburg has acquired over $1,910,750 in grant awards for 150 different projects. He has authored over 150 scientific papers and reports, contributed to 4 field guides, and presented over 220 invited lectures and conference papers/posters, many with Drake undergraduates. Dr. Rosburg receives many requests to give presentations and lead field trips for community and conservation organizations, and has made over 425 public presentations on a wide range of nature topics. He has published 600 photographs in various books, magazines, calendars and reports.

Dr. Rosburg has served Drake in several capacities, most notably as Director of Environmental Science and Policy, Chair of the Biology Department, Chair of the Arts and Science Promotion and Tenure Committee, Curator of the Drake Herbarium and Adviser for the Drake Environmental Action League and the Drake Outdoor Leadership Club. He established the Drake Prairie Rescue and Restoration Program in 2003, which receives external funding to conduct prairie management on private land using Drake students as interns. The program has provided hands-on experience in prairie ecology for over 300 students and helped save prairies on over 65 sites across Iowa. Dr. Rosburg has invested over 1,800 hours of unpaid work and traveled over 36,000 miles to save prairies, savannas and woodlands across Iowa.

He has also served the Iowa Academy of Science as President and on the Board of Directors for 9 years. He is a former Trustee for The Nature Conservancy of Iowa, as well as an adviser or member on many conservation and science-oriented committees such as the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, the Louisa Ecological Advisory Committee, Iowa Urban Tree Council, Botanical Consultant to the University of Iowa Press, and the Urban Conservation Advisory Committee for Des Moines Park and Recreation.

Some of the more notable awards received include the Centennial Scholar, Friend of the Prairie Award, Iowa Distinguished Scientist Award, the Hagie Heritage Award for Conservation, Troyer Research Fellow, Olav Smedal Conservation Award, Sierra Club Environmental Educator Award, Loess Hills Prairie Seminar Award for Outstanding Leadership and Education, Prairie Advocate Award, Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence Award, Loess Hills Preservation Society Special Recognition Award, Fellow Status in the Iowa Academy of Science, and the Iowa Chapter of The Nature Conservancy Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Rosburg lives on a small farm, where he and his wife Carman practice regenerative agriculture and self-sufficient living raising livestock, fruits and vegetables. He and Carman have three children and four grandchildren. His hobbies include camping, backpacking, climbing, running, nature photography, reading and watching the Packers.


A&S Calendar 
A&S News