Dr. William Conner intended to study marine biology in graduate school, but changed his path for good after helping to research the impacts of oil pipelines on swamps. He has now studied swamps for more than 40 years.
Why research swamps?
I came from Virginia to Louisiana, and I’d never even been in a swamp. We were doing surveys, riding through bayous, and it was just absolutely a beautiful ecosystem to me. The more I went out, the more I enjoyed it. Because it was so new—hardly anyone knew anything about them at the time—everything we were doing was new. Whatever we learned was new. It was exciting being at the forefront of that.
What keeps the research interesting?
People keep looking at me now, after 41 years, and saying, “You should know everything there is to know about swamps.” But every year, new things pop up. Just as we think we understand something, something new comes along—like climate change, or humans building on more and more of these wetlands.