Ashland University’s Environmental Lecture Series to Feature Award-Winning Author and Photographer

Ashland University’s Environmental Lecture Series to Feature Award-Winning Author and Photographer

11/7/16 ASHLAND, Ohio – The second event in the 2016-2017 Ashland University Environmental Lecture Series, with a theme of “In Our Own Backyard, Year 2,” will be a presentation by Dr. David FitzSimmons, award-winning author and photographer.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held Thursday, Nov. 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall in the Dwight Schar College of Education. FitzSimmons will share his experiences of studying, photographing and writing about vernal pools in a presentation titled “If You Build It, They Will Come: Vernal Pools, Fauna, and a Whole Lot of Fun!”

​FitzSimmons will talk about the ecology of these ephemeral wetlands and the natural history of their inhabitants. ​He also will discuss what he has learned about constructing his own environmentally responsible vernal pool. He will share pictures from his books, including fantastic underwater photos as well as videos documenting the spring migration of amphibians in Ohio.

As an award-winning author and photographer, FitzSimmons has just released a new book titled “Salamander Dance,” which is a children’s picture book exploring the annual life cycle of vernal pools. FitzSimmons is also the author of Animals of Ohios Ponds and Vernal Pools, which investigates the animal ecology and geologic history of these special wetlands.

FitzSimmons photographs and writes for various magazines, including Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, Professional Photographer and Shutterbug. His 100-plus calendar credits include numerous titles by Brown Trout, Barnes & Noble, and TF Publishing. His most recent publications include Curious Critters and Curious Critter Volume Two, which have won nine national book awards and sold more than 100,000 copies, as well as audiobooks for both
Curious Critters titles.

One of seven Sigma Pro photographers in North America, he presents seminars and workshops to a wide variety of audiences, from public school, college and university classes to photography groups and civic organizations. His works have been exhibited at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, the National Center for Nature Photography and the Telluride Photo Festival. Before becoming a freelance photographer and author, David taught for over 20 years -- first high school English and then as a university professor having instructed at Cornell University, Ohio State and Ashland University. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Ohio State University, with a specialty in narrative theory — investigating the components of storytelling — something that influences his photography and writing.

Dr. Patricia Saunders, associate professor of biology and director of the environmental science program, said the goal of the series this year is to continue exploring examples of local natural history and ecology and make connections to issues, questions and plans for the future. “Vernal pools are numerous in this part of Ohio, but they aren’t very well known. Each is typically very small and dries up during the year, yet these habitats serve as relatively safe zones and homes for many unique species. Dr. FitzSimmons has a fantastic perspective on these valuable wetlands, and we are looking forward to getting a peak below the surface of these somewhat mysterious habitats.”

The Environmental Lecture Series was established at Ashland University after the Environmental Science program was implemented in 1991-92. Now in its 25th year, the lecture series was designed to support the Environmental Science program by allowing students, faculty and members of North Central Ohio communities to interact with leaders in environmental science and policy. Over the years, the lecture series has generated significant campus and community involvement and support.

Current support for the lecture series is provided by a grant from the Lubrizol Foundation, individual donations and additional support from Ashland University. Past series have been supported by AU and grants from the GTE Foundation and the Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation.

For information about the spring series events and any updates on the lecture series, visit the website at:

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.                                                                                ###