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UM's Distinguished Alumni 2012

Two of this year's UM Distinguished Alumni Award winners are graduates of the college's wildlife biology program. Doug Chadwick and Thomas Riggert were honored for their successful careers during this past weekend's homecoming festivities. Chadwick obtained an M.S. in Wildlife Biology in 1974. Riggert earned his B.S. in Wildlife Biology in 1962. They spoke as part of the CFC alumni celebration to faculty, students, other alumni, UM President Royce Engstrom, Provost Perry Brown, and Director of the Alumni Association Bill Johnston.

Doug Chadwick has traveled the globe to research and report on wildlife conservation issues. Over the course of his career, he has published 29 books and 168 magazine articles, and his work has appeared in five scientific journals. He is the critically acclaimed author of The Fate of the Elephant, A Beast the Color of Winter, The Company We Keep: America’s Endangered Species and Enduring America. Mr. Chadwick is a frequent contributor to National Geographic Magazine, and his writing also has appeared in Audubon, Defenders of Wildlife and Smithsonian Magazine. His research, publications and advocacy for wildlife and habitat conservation have contributed greatly to the knowledge and preservation of some of the planet’s most elusive and endangered species. A respected wildlife expert, he is a valuable resource for filmmakers and lawmakers alike. He has appeared in numerous wildlife documentaries, and he played a significant role in getting the grizzly bear listed as a threatened species by giving presentations before the Secretary of the Interior. Mr. Chadwick is the director and founding board member of Vital Ground, a nonprofit foundation that has safeguarded more than 600,000 acres of habitat for grizzly bears and other wildlife. Chadwick offered special recognition to his wife, Karen Reeves, for her help with his research.

Thomas Riggert is one of Australia’s most influential conservation biologists. For more than 45 years, he has worked tirelessly to protect and enhance the environment, offering solutions to the complex environmental issues surrounding commercial development, land rehabilitation, waterway protection and waste management. Mr. Riggert laid the foundation for environmental planning strategies in Australia, where he pioneered the integration of responsible scientific concern for the environment into large-scale developments. He recently completed a $55 million river decontamination project, which transformed a hazardous wasteland into a wetlands sanctuary with 19 lakes and more than 40 species of birds. Although he has spent the majority of his time in Australia, his research efforts have stretched around the globe to countries such as Antarctica, Africa, Iceland and Greenland. In addition to his research and consulting achievements, he has brought his passion for the natural world to a larger audience as a writer and filmmaker. His documentaries have appeared on BBC, and he has lent his expertise to National Geographic Magazine as a consultant and contributor. He currently lectures students on environmental engineering at the Southbank Institute of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

Photo: Karen Reeves, Doug Chadwick, Jim Burchfield, and Thomas Riggert.