By Jordan Beach
With 15 years of biology research experience, one could say Keith Ray found his calling, but until his first week as a biology student, Ray had no concept of a potential career.
His advice: prepare for the unexpected.
“A new professor in our department tagged along on a hike with the class I was taking. He was carrying a big net and as we passed the creek on campus he jumped in, moved the net through the water and out came lots of little, colorful fish,” recalled Ray. “From that moment, I was hooked. I’ve spent my career working with fish and in rivers and streams. That one encounter changed my life, and I could have never been prepared for that experience, but I went with it.”
Ray loves being on the water, his wife claiming he is drawn to it, and when he is not in his role as instructor of biology and lab coordinator, he fishes (including fly fishing), spends time with his three sons and continues hobbies of photography and hiking, especially enjoying them when family is involved.
A Reinhardt alumnus himself, Ray appreciates the people that make up the University.
“At Reinhardt, you can connect with students, faculty and staff in a way that I have seen nowhere else. I can engage my students on a different level because I get to know them,” said Ray.
While Ray says it is hard to convey everything with so much to know and understand in biology, he wants students leaving his courses with a sense of wonder.
“There are so many amazing things taking place all around us, that illuminating one new plant or animal often allows us to see so much more that’s connected to it.”
Throughout his career and with expertise in fish and aquatic biodiversity, ecology and evolution, Ray has described three new fish species and worked to find a better understanding of fish distribution in the United States and South America. His experience in biology, ecology, zoology, wildlife biology and training in comparative anatomy, phylogenetics and molecular biology provides students with a plethora of knowledge on prospective career fields.
“Biology is a program where students really get to explore the world around them. We can prepare students for a variety of careers, from organismal biology and conservation to microbiology and genetics, in addition to medical and dental school and so much more.”
Ray believes Reinhardt’s class sizes offers more detailed instruction in labs and for students to have a deeper understand of the topics they explore.
Reinhardt’s qualities combined with Ray’s in-depth experience and ongoing fascination with how the world functions continues to provide students with a more profound understanding of biology.