Summers honored with distinguished professorship

An East Carolina University biology professor was named the first recipient of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Advancement Council Distinguished Professor in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The recipient, Dr. Kyle Summers, has worked at ECU for 15 years. He has taught courses including evolutionary ecology, infectious disease, genetics and tropical ecology. Summers has also mentored students by serving as committee chair for 13 graduate students and as a faculty member on 24 graduate student thesis and dissertation committees.

Dr. Kyle Summers

His research on poison frogs has garnered international recognition, including  highlights in National Geographic magazine, BBC Wildlife and Scientific American. He has also attracted attention for his research on the evolution of monogamy and for his research in evolutionary medicine. Summers has received nearly 20 grants that total more than $740,000 and co-authored more than 70 journal articles and 50 scientific papers.

“I am extremely pleased and grateful to be the first recipient of this award,” said Summers.

“My research interests are broad, and I hope to use the professorship as a platform to connect my main field of interest (evolution) to many threads of research that are pursued on this campus, including animal behavior, ecology, speciation, systematics, tropical biology, molecular genetics and genomics, infectious disease and medical science.”

Summers is a member of the Animal Behavior Society, American Society of Naturalists, International Society of Behavioral Ecology, Society for the Study of Evolution, Research and Analysis Network for Neotropical Amphibians, National Center for Science Education and the Sigma Xi Society. In 2008, he was appointed to the editorial board of the journal, Ideas in Ecology and Evolution.

Summers holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Following postdoctoral research appointments at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Queen’s University, Cambridge University and the University of California at Davis, Summers joined the faculty of ECU in 1996 as an assistant professor of biology.

Established by the Harriot College’s Advancement Council, the professorship requires active engagement in research and publication, teaching at least one course per term, communication of research results to the university through lectures and/or presentations and leadership in helping the university community understand more fully the importance of science and mathematics in higher education and day-to-day life.

“The establishment of this award will go a long way toward highlighting and promoting the importance of scientific research on this campus,” Summers said.

For additional information, contact Summers at 252-328-6304 or



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