Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9 (Spring 1999). Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


There are increasingly two types of professional modern biologists. One likes to subdivide and macerate the organism being studied into its smallest possible components, preferably to the size of molecules, and asks questions that are largely chemical in nature. Such biologists work in high tech, air-conditioned labs, get grants large enough to match their egos, and dream of Nobel Prizes. They go to work in nice clothes and even nicer cars, rarely leaving the city limits. The other, increasingly rare, type likes to study an organism in the context of its broadest environmental components, preferably the size of its ecosystem, and asks questions that are largely evolutionary in nature. These biologists work under all possible environmental conditions, struggle with tiny grants or none at all, and dream of understanding the species they love just a little better. They go to work in grubby clothes, drive battered field vehicles, and enter city limits as rarely as possible. Charles Brown is one of the latter.