Kevin Alexander, Ph.D. is a specialist in aquatic invertebrates, but has taught a wide range of Biology courses and been involved in almost equally eclectic research.
“I like to think I'm a pretty good generalist,” he says. ”I do a lot with biological diversity, water quality, conservation easements and riparian biology along rivers and streams.”
And he’s a popular instructor in Western’s Biology department.
For the past dozen summers, he has also managed a team of students from across the country as they track and document the isolated and endangered Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly. It’s a tiny creature, first identified more than 30 years back, and found only on some of the higher peaks in the San Juan Range of the Rockies in southwest Colorado. Alexander’s young son has even joined the team on some of their outings.
Alexander is also known as the owner, with his wife, of the Gunnison Brewery on Main Street, which has been around about as long as his butterfly project. They hire brewers to make the beer, but Alexander says he trains them and ensures they keep producing the quality brews he requires.
“The fun thing with making beer is it’s a little bit of science and a little bit of art,” he explains. “There are certain parameters you have to hit, but beyond that, it’s a matter of taste.”
Alexander earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and his PhD in Aquatic Biology from North Texas University, with his dissertation research focused on stone flies. His ongoing research projects, beside the butterflies, include biomonitoring and assessment of streams, biodiversity of aquatic insects in the West, riparian and watershed assessments, and baseline studies in conservation biology.
He teaches courses ranging from Limnology and Aquatic Biology to Zoology and Conservation Biology. And as with the butterfly project, Alexander helps undergraduates with original research, taking them and their posters to scientific conferences.