Faculty Profiles


John Anderson

Professor of Zoology, Behavioral Ecology, Anatomy, and Physiology

John AndersonWhere did you go to school?

U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and the University of Rhode Island.

What do you teach?

Ecology Animal Behaviour Anatomy and Physiology; Biology Conservation Biology; Island Life; Literature and Ecology of the Sea; Human Ecology; Turn of the Century; and Mammalogy

Why do you teach at COA?

Because of some of the students. Because every so often the lightning strikes and you finds yourself in a unique teaching and learning situation where you are learning as much or more than the students; but you are both learning together. Because there are students who will roll those dice, take that gamble, work with a teacher who doesn't know what he is talking about -yet- but plans on changing that; and they want to be part of that. Because I don't like to be the smartest kid in the room. Because I never want to teach at a place where I already know 4/5 of the books on other professors' shelves before I walk into their office. Because I have grown to love these islands, this sea. Because I love being at a place where we can say "Why don't we..." and then we go do it. Because....

How long have you been part of the COA community? What has changed?

22.5 years. We've grown too big.

What new course would you like to design?

A History of Natural History

Which project thrills you most to assign and witness?

Here is an island. Here is a species. By the end of the summer, come up with a question that you will feel comfortable answering in a hall full of strangers.

What is the most significant challenge the current generation of college students faces?

Attention Deficit Disorder. The loss of history. The loss of any connection to a broader culture.

Tell us about your favorite tree on campus.

I love the birch on the lawn above the dock. We cut it down. It came back.

Where are your roots?

A lake in the mountains of New Zealand. A lake in the mountains of California. A house in a field in England. A lake in the desert of Nevada.

What can you say about life on an island in Maine?

It is nothing like anything I imagined doing.

In which media do you most enjoy to work? Why?

Words. Because, "In the beginning...."

Where do you like to do your work?

Quiet places.

Beyond teaching at COA, which projects or passions energize you?

Reading. Bow watch. Dawn. On a schooner.

Which books do you keep on your desk, in your pocket, on your nightstand?

- Groovy environmental:

Beston, Henry The Outermost House

Steinbeck, John. Log from the Sea of Cortez

Eiseley, Loren. The Star Thrower

Leopold, Aldo. Sand County Almanac

White, Gilbert. Natural History of Selbourne

MacLean, Norman Young Men and Fire

Maclean, Norman A River Runs Through It

Lopez, Barry. Winter Count

Brower, Kenneth. The Starship & the Canoe

Bleibtreu, John. The Parable of the Beast

Dubos, Rene. The wooing of Earth

MacPhee, John Basin and Range

MacPhee, John Oranges

MacPhee, John. Control of Nature

MacPhee, John Encounters with the Archdruid

Mathiessen, Peter. The Snow Leopard

Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row

Pirsig, Robert. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Wessells, Tom Reading the forested landscape

Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Dillard Annie Holy The Firm

Thoreau Henry Walking


- Less Groovy Science/Environment/Evolution:

Worster, Donald. Nature's Economy

Hrdy, Sarah. The Woman Who never Evolved

Darlington, Philip. Evolution for Naturalists

Mayr, Ernst. One Long Argument

Darwin, Charles. Voyage of the Beagle

Darwin, Charles. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

Tinbergen, Nicholas. Curious Naturalists

Tinbergen, Nicholas The Herring Gull's World

Wallace, Alfred Russell. The Malay Archipelago

Wallace A. R. Darwinism

Schaller, George. Stones of Silence

Steinbeck, John. Log from the Sea of Cortez

Peters, Robert. A critique for ecology

Wilson, E.O. & W. Bossert. A primer of population biology

Krebs, John & N.B. Davies. Behavioural Ecology (any edition except the last)

Crosby, Alfred. Ecological Imperialism

Carr, Archie. The Windward Road

Carr, Archie. So excelente a fishe

Haldane, J.B.S. On Being the Right Size

Lorenz, Konrad King Solomon's Ring

Eiseley, Loren. Darwin's Century

Eiseley Loren The Night Country

Eiseley, Loren. All the Strange Hours

Wilson, E.O. Sociobiology

Levins, R. & R. Lewontin. The Dialectical Biologist

Caughley, Graeme Conservation Biology in theory and practice

Tufte, Edward The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Kingsland, Sharon Modeling Nature

Chitty, Dennis Do Lemmings Commit Suicide? Beautiful Hypotheses & Ugly facts

Hamilton, W.D. Narrow Roads of gene Land all volumes, but esp the first 2

Browne, Janet, Charles Darwin: Voyaging

Browne Janet Charles Darwin: The power of Place

Pielou, E.C. After The Ice Age

Golley, Frank A history of the Ecosystem Concept: More than The Sum of its Parts

Haldane, J.B.S. Possible Worlds

Garrett, Laurie, Betrayal of Trust

Hooper, Edward The River


- 'History' or is it fiction? :

Clark, Kenneth. Civilization

Prescott, William. History of the conquest of Mexico

Galeano, Eduardo. A memory of Fire

Galeano, Eduardo. We say No

Massey, Robert. Dreadnought

Kipling, Rudyard Puck of Pook's Hill

Kipling, Rudyard, Rewards & Fairies

Maclean Fitzroy Eastern Approaches

Bell, Gertrude Amurath to Amurath

Churchill, Winston History of the English Speaking Peoples

Cronin, William Changes in the Land

Brown Dee Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Least Heat Moon, William. Prairy Erth

Lawrence, T.E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Agee, James, Walker Evans. Let us now praise famous men

Ascherson, Neal Black Sea

Runciman, Steven History of the crusades

Thompson, Hunter. Hell's Angels.

Thompson, Hunter. Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972

Renault, Mary Fire From Heaven

Renault, Mary The Persian Boy

Renault, Mary The Bull from the Sea, The King must Die

Sutcliffe, Rosemary. The Flowers of Adonis

Fromkin, David A Peace to end all Peace: The fall of the Ottoman Empire & the Creation of the Modern Middle East

Fall, Bernard. Hell in a very small place: the siege of Dien Bien Phu

Horn Alistair A savage war of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962

Sheehan, Neil A bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam

Dalrymple, William, From the Sacred Mountain

Aslam, Nadeen The wasted Vigil

Rushdie, Salman The enchantress of Florence


- Odd Life & All That:

Drabble, Margaret. The Realms of Gold

Drabble, Margaret. The Gates of Ivory

Byatt, A.S. Angels and Insects

Pynchon, Thomas. V.

Nabokov, Vladimir. Ada

Didion, Joan. The White Album

Didion, Joan. Slouching towards Bethlehem

DeBeauvoir, Simone. Notes of a Dutiful Daughter

Fowles, John. Daniel Martin

Durrell, Lawrence. The Alexandria Quartet

Sayers, Dorothy. Gaudy Night

Atwood, Margaret. Catseye

deLampedusa, Giuseppe. The Leopard

Heyerdal, Thor Aku Aku

Masters, John Coromandel, Far Far the Mountain Peak

Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, etc.

Lewis, C.S. Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength

Warren, Robert Penn. All the King's Men

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity

Norman, Howard The Bird Artist

Williams, Terry T. Leap


- Just plain odd or distinctly weird:

Pynchon, Thomas Gravity's Rainbow

Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49

Pynchon Thomas. Vineland

DeBeauvoir, Simone. The Mandarins

Fowles, John. The Magus

Fowles, John The Ebony Tower

Stoppard, Tom. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are dead

Garner, Alan Strandloper

Mathiessen, Peter Far Tortuga

Garner, Alan, The Owl Service

Murakami, Haruki The windup bird chronicles

Garner, Alan Red Shift

McCarthy, Cormac. Blood meridian


- Poetry:

Thomas, Dylan

Eliot, T.S.

Yeats, W.B.

Aiken, Conrad

Houseman, A.E.

Rilke, R.M.

Pound, Ezra

Tagore, Rabindranath


What can't you live without?

I don't know. I don't want to find out.

What brings you joy?

When things work.

Describe your ideal academic moment.

The cliffs on Isle au Haut.

What role should rebellion or revolution play in contemporary societies?

As little as possible. The Who said it best back in The Day when it was The Day: "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." What we need is a half revolution.

Which rule, theory, assumption most needs dismantling?

The idea that everything is relative.

What does 'green' mean to you?

A colour. An increasingly over-used label.

What's the craziest, loveliest idea you've had/heard as of late?

Semesters.