AL student Kelly Pearce accepts faculty position with Allegheny College

August 13, 2018

Kelly Pearce, Ph.D. student at the Appalachian Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), will soon join the faculty of Allegheny College, a national liberal arts college in Meadville, PA.

Pearce, a wildlife ecologist with a research interest in river otters, is excited to take on teaching responsibilities at her new post.

“I had such a great experience at Juniata College, where I earned my undergraduate degree,” said Pearce. “So, it has always been my dream to teach at a liberal arts college. Allegheny College’s environmental science program has a really strong aquatic focus and follows an applied learning model, which is also very attractive to me.” 

“It has been very rewarding to watch Ms. Pearce develop her research and teaching skills as part of our graduate studies program,” said Dr. Eric Davidson, Director of the Appalachian Laboratory. “In addition to cutting-edge research, our mission includes training the next generation of environmental scientists, and Kelly’s high quality work and interdisciplinary approach provide a stellar example of fulfilling that mission.”

Pearce will start this fall co-teaching an environmental science course and has been granted an opportunity to design her own upper-level course, which will most likely focus on predators in ecosystems.

In addition to teaching, Pearce will also conduct research.  She and other Allegheny faculty have begun discussions on possible collaborative projects, and she will be taking some current project funding with her to her new post to support this work.

“Allegheny has been very open and welcoming of all my ideas and to my continuing to pursue my research interests,” she said. “My first goal is finding otters on French Creek [a tributary of the Allegheny River that flows near the Allegheny College campus]!” 

During her first year at Allegheny, Pearce will balance her new teaching responsibilities with finishing her dissertation work at the Appalachian Laboratory.  She plans to graduate by May 2019 with an earned doctorate from UMCES.

“The faculty in the environmental science department at Allegheny College have been wonderful,” Pearce said.  “I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity.”

Pearce credits the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s multi-disciplinary approach to graduate education, in part, for her quick success on the job market.

“Having a multi-disciplinary focus is critical to be successful in field like environmental science,” she said.

She also credits the teaching experience she gained at Frostburg State University and advises graduate students to gain similar experience during their studies.

“Stay current on pressing environmental science issues and gain experience in both research and teaching during your graduate studies, so you’ll be a more competitive candidate for colleges and universities,” she said.

Pearce and her partner Tommy, who will be joining Allegheny College’s staff as a men’s lacrosse coach, will soon move to the Meadville area and are looking forward to joining the Allegheny College and Meadville communities.    

To learn more about graduate education opportunities at UMCES, visit  To read more about Kelly Pearce’s research, visit