News Research

March 3, 2021 at 2:06 pm

Moody Recognized For a Life Spent Studying Snakes, Salamanders, Frogs, Much More

Ohio Biological Survey Recognizes Moody’s Teaching and Research in Natural History and Zoology

Dr. Scott Moody, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at Ohio University, received the 2021 Herbert Osborn Award from the Ohio Biological Survey on Feb. 27.

The Ohio Biological Survey is a consortium of colleges, universities, museums, agencies, metro parks, arboreta, zoos, other organizations, and individuals. OBS established the Herbert Osborn Award to recognize noteworthy accomplishments and service in the field of biology. Recipients have made exceptional contributions in both research and service in advancing knowledge about the occurrence, distribution, taxonomy, or ecology of the flora or fauna of Ohio.

Moody is passionate about the amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals that make their home in the Ohio River Valley, and his Science Cafe talks introduced many non-biologists to their importance in the ecosystem. He researched frog. salamander, and snake populations in southern Ohio. He could be found in the field with study subjects including Black and Blue Racers (a snake), Queen Water Snakes. Timber Rattlesnakes, Spadefooted Toads, and Ravine Salamanders.

And he is quick to note that OHIO’s mascot really should be the Hellbender, a two-foot-long, river-dwelling giant salamander that has inhabited Appalachia—including the local Hocking River—for 65 million years. North America’s largest salamander was last observed under the rocks at White’s Mill in Athens in 1963.

Moody is An emeritus professor living on a farm near Albany and still gives invited lectures in courses on campus. But his teaching model harkens back to Socrates, the Greek philosopher from ancient Athens.

Scott Moody and a : rescued Sandhill crane on east State Street, Athens

Scott Moody and a rescued Sandhill crane on east State Street, Athens. Photo by Professor Emeritus of Environmental & Plant Biology Phil Cantino.

Moody started teaching biology at OHIO in 1979, and while he retired in 2019, he still he volunteers as curator of the Ohio University Vertebrate and Insect Collections.

At OHIO, Moody was a favorite teacher of many alumni. He was honored with a University Professor Teaching Award, as well as an Outstanding Faculty Service Award.

“Scott’s teaching style was Socratic. With his thoughtful questioning, he expertly guided us to reflect on the broader implications of specific concepts and examples that he presented in his lecture. In the field, Scott is a naturalist in the most classic sense. His almost boyish fascination for salamanders, frogs, lizards, and snakes combined with a deep understanding of the local ecology was truly inspiring,” wrote alumna Shylaja Akkaraju, PhD, now a professor of biology at CUNY Bronx Community College, in a nomination letter.

“Without effort, he got his students interested in the philosophy of subjects such as herpetology, systematics, physiology, and anatomy. As we learned about the ideas of Popper and Hennig as philosophers and thinkers, he also covered the nitty-gritty of the concepts and methods that were based upon these ideas. He was so enthusiastic about anatomy that I eventually ended up liking it until this day! He challenged students to go farther that what the textbooks contained, and to think about ways to put the concepts into to practice,” wrote alumna Vivian Páez, now a professor at the Universidad de Antioquia Medellín in Colombia.

His research career was funded by multiple grants, including the National Science Foundation and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He also spent time as a National Academy of Sciences exchange scientist at the Institutes of Paleozoology in Poland and held appointments in Czechoslovakia, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The Ohio Biological Survey nomination materials noted that Moody co-authored the Ohio Turtle, Lizard, and Snake Atlas that is a building block to a companion reptile volume under way to the already published massive and magnificent Amphibians of Ohio.

Moody earned a Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Michigan and did his undergraduate studies at Harvard University.

Past Herbert Osborn awardees from Ohio University

1993 Henri C Seibert, Professor Emeritus of Zoology

1995 Warren Wistendahl, Professor Emeritus of Botany

2009 Brian McCarthy, Professor of Environmental & Plant Biology

2021 Scott M Moody, Associate Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *