Entomology and Ecology

Dr. John McCreadie, Professor of Biology, joined his department in August of 1999 as an Assistant Professor, coming to USA from Clemson University, where he was a Research Assistant/Associate Professor. In 2005 he was promoted to Associate Professor and then promoted again to Professor in 2009.

McCreadie is an Entomologist, and his research has focused on the community ecology and diversity of stream insects. “Over the past several years,” he says, he has “concentrated on differences between temperate and tropical streams. Field work has included streams in the southeastern U.S., as well as Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, and the Galapagos.”

In 1991, McCreadie earned his Ph.D. in Entomology/Ecology from Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, and according to McCreadie, he has lately been involved with projects in Medical Entomology that examine tick and mosquito populations in Alabama. The intent is to understand the diseases these groups carry and to develop risk models for humans.

In addition to teaching courses on Entomology, McCreadie also teaches classes on Freshwater Ecology and Experimental Design. He seeks to aid his students in acquiring practical scientific skills. “What is more important,” he asks, “a collection of facts stuffed into a student's head, or whether the student can use an identification key, measure water parameters, establish sample protocols, and analyze data?”

Securing research grants is always an important part of any scientist’s career. McCreadie has been successful in receiving grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Geographic Society (NGS). In discussing which grants have been most important to him, McCreadie identifies his $275,000 NSF grant for research on symbiosis, which he received during his first year at USA. He says this grant established his research career. He also points to the importance of his current grant of $130,000 from the state of Alabama to fund his on-
going research on ticks and tick-borne diseases.

In discussing how Biologists can have a significant impact on society, McCreadie has a ready answer: “Publish, publish, publish, publish. To have any street cred in the world of Biology you have to have a good record of research and publishing. No one wants to hear from a biologist who does not practice the art of research. The end point of our research is the publications, both technical and those for the layman.”

Nature has always fascinated McCreadie. He says, “Ever since I can remember I have also had an interest in the natural world, especially insects. I guess I was born a bug nerd.”

In terms of goals, McCreadie has the Caribbean in mind. He plans to continue current areas of research while expanding some projects into the Caribbean. He adds, with an eye directed much further down the road, “Eventually I plan to spend a great deal of time on a beach on a Caribbean island with those drinks with the umbrellas in them.”

When he is not doing his research and teaching his classes, McCreadie likes to spend spare time playing poker, traveling, and collecting ancient jars and coins. His musical taste ranges from Bach to Black Sabbath, and his favorite movies include The Wizard of Oz, Goodfellas, and To Kill a Mockingbird.