Charles Nilon Named the Newest Holder of the William J. Rucker Professorship in Fisheries and Wildlife

Charles Nilon, professor of urban wildlife management in the School of Natural Resources, was recently named the newest holder of the William J. Rucker Professorship in Fisheries and Wildlife. From its inception in 1944, the William J. Rucker Professorship in Fisheries and Wildlife’s purpose has been for the “instruction of youth upon the subject of the value and preservation of wild life.” Funds are used primarily to support graduate research assistant stipends.

“I have known Dr. Nilon almost since the start of my MU career, when I arrived in 1999,” said Pat Market, interim director of the School of Natural Resources. “He has always been a thoughtful colleague, who has the School’s and our students’ best interests at heart. Dr. Nilon is a widely respected scholar with more than 5,000 citations. His expertise makes him a clear choice for this distinction.”

Nilon has been a faculty member in SNR since June 1989. His research focuses on urban wildlife conservation and urban ecology, human dimensions of wildlife conservation, and environmental justice. Since 1997, Nilon has been a co-principal investigator on the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES), one of two urban ecosystems included in the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research program. He and his students study how ecological and socioeconomic factors influence wildlife species composition and abundance. Because urban areas are homes to people as well as wildlife, Nilon’s research also considers the role of nature as part of an individual’s day-to-day environment, and environmental justice issues associated with access to nature.

Since 2010, Nilon has been a principal investigator on three different synthesis projects that are compiling data from more than 150 of the world’s cities. The projects seek to understand global patterns of biodiversity in cities, the filters that shape species composition in cities, and the social and ecological factors that shape patterns of abundance in cities, and apply that information to management, conservation and planning programs. He teaches courses on urban wildlife conservation, human dimensions of natural resources and environmental justice, and is a co-investigator on MU’s THRIVE Project which seeks to develop a culture of inclusive excellence in the natural sciences.