Dr. Casey Williams
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in the small town of Haughton, Louisiana about 30 miles outside of Shreveport and Bossier.
After high school, I attended Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, where I earned a Bachelor of Science in wildlife management. After a couple of years, I attended Texas State University (formerly Southwest Texas State University) in San Marcos, where I earned a Master of Science in aquatic biology and a doctorate in aquatic resources.
What led you to become a professor at VCSU?
After graduation, I worked at the Northwestern State University Aquaculture Research Facility in Marco, Louisiana. I was married and had two sons. My main area of research was with non-game fish and included everything from small streams to large rivers. My family and I then spent over two years in Logan, Utah, while I was completing postdoctoral work at Utah State University.
I was lucky enough during my graduate and postdoctoral work to work in all sorts of environments, from the swamps and bayous of Louisiana and East Texas, to the spring fed desert streams of West Texas, to the beautiful mountain streams and river throughout Utah and Idaho. These experiences in multiple environments were vital to my understanding of the ecology of natural systems.
What made you realize you wanted to work in higher education?
I never had any intention of being a professor. During graduate school, I was required to teach labs and was the instructor of record for two large biology lecture courses. I realized that I really enjoyed teaching and enjoyed interacting with students. During my postdoc, I was limited to conducting research and really missed the teaching component of my past. Throughout my travels, I had never really traveled to the Great Plains region. During my postdoctoral work, I was invited to go on a pheasant hunting trip to Pierre, South Dakota. I fell in love with the area and really appreciated the low human population.
Soon afterwards, the fisheries position at VCSU opened and so I decided to apply. I was a little hesitant about entering academia due to my experience at larger universities. I was given an interview, and after visiting VCSU and interacting with the Science Department faculty and students, I really felt that VCSU was a good fit for me. The friendly VCSU atmosphere was very attractive.
What attracted you to Valley City State and what’s kept you here?
I have been teaching at VCSU since the fall of 2011. I teach ichthyology, fisheries management, field ecology, conservation biology, environmental law and regulations, and biostatistics and experimental design. I am a big stats nerd so one of my favorite classes to teach is biostatistics, and I also feel that students understanding statistics and how they are misused and cherry-picked in today’s society is an important skill for them to have.
The best part of my job is interacting and working with students. I always say that they keep me young! I really appreciate good discussions in which students use critical thinking while arguing their informed opinions and not just parroting what they have heard from other individuals. The ability to discuss sometimes controversial topics with students in the academic setting has promoted open-mindedness and forces me (and them) to consider differing opinions.
What’s the biggest takeaway so far from your experience with VCSU?
I love my job and am very grateful for the opportunity to continue contributing to VCSU for a long time into the future.