Childhood Fascination of Treetops Still Drives Man

It began when Bruce Rinker, a 2004 graduate of the ES PhD program, read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World as a child. He was captivated by the world of dinosaurs and tropical forests that Doyle described living high on top of the tepuis, gigantic granite towers that rise from the Brazilian Amazon. To Bruce, the possibility of a frontier so inaccessible, virtually impossible to explore, piqued his interest in finding unexplored worlds himself. Years later, he built a canopy walkway in New York State to explore the treetops, and has since explored the treetops of forests on several continents.

In Florida, he directs the award-winning Environmental Lands Division for Pinellas County’s Department of Environmental Management. He is a Switzer Environmental fellow, a fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences, and a national fellow of The Explorers Club, joining well-known members Jane Goodall, the Leakeys, and many astronauts. He has authored numerous scientific and popular articles and co-edited ‘Forest Canopies,’ published in 2004 by Elsevier Press. Bruce sits on the research board of directors for the Amazon Conservatory for Tropical Studies (ACTS) in Peru.

Bruce is also an associate of AUNE’s Center for Tropical Ecology and Conservation, a research associate for TREE Foundation and New College of Florida (both in Sarasota), and an adjunct faculty member at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg where AUNE alumna Alison Ormsby, PhD ’03 teaches environmental studies. Several years ago, John Haskin, PhD ’03, told Bruce about Antioch University New England’s nontraditional doctoral program where collegial support and compassion exist among an extraordinary student and faculty body.

“The program challenged and changed me. I quickly developed a respect for qualitative research as well as quantitative studies. I now realize the old man downriver has valuable insights that I would never have respected by focusing only on numerical data. I am now a less linear, but more global thinker than I was before my work at Antioch University New England. The program fulfilled its promises exceptionally.”

Bruce’s doctoral dissertation focused on ecological links between canopy and soil processes in the tropical rain forests of Puerto Rico.

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