Excerpts from Student Evaluations -- Spring 1998
I'm not given to superlatives, but I must say that this is the most rigorous ecology class at UT, and probably the most enlightening one in general. I believe, above and beyond anything else, that I've picked up enough of the basic grammar and vocabulary needed to begin reading the book of nature. The only improvement that I can think of would be to have more time for the class. Thank you!
This was the most incredible class I have ever had. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I can't even describe how sad it makes me to know what humans have done to the planet. It it were up to me I would make this class a prerequisite for the human race. I will look at things differently from now on. I am one that has been affected by this experience. Thank you!
I can think of no way Pianka could improve this course. He is an endless fountain in response to an unquenchable search for knowledge. His life experiences complement our studies in ecology, and bring to life, and give real examples of, his teachings and the words of our readings. Truly memorable course! Leaves a lasting impression!
Pianka's expertise showed in many areas of this class thick with information, and his knowledge of the rest of the material was plenty thorough to be able to teach it well. Class is very well organized and lectures are well-presented and easy to understand. Lectures go well with great textbook.
Pianka is an excellent teacher. His lectures were always interesting, entertaining and informative. Thanks for teaching so many students a wonderful course! Keep up the good work.
Inspire students by letting them know that though we (the world) face serious problems, we cannot give up on the struggle to save endangered species and natural habitats. The best instructor I've had at U.T. Perhaps more math (derivation and solutions to equations) would be great.
Pianka displayed a passion for the subject that he taught that is very rare at this school. I have had many professors that acted like teaching was a burden and they just wanted to get back to their lab.
Good job. I really enjoyed this course. You did an excellent job explaining the material and mixed it with good anecdotes as well. I also think it was good to share your vision of the future: it's harsh, but true and people need to realize that...
I don't think I've ever had an instructor who was able to dispense as much info as you have this semester! Great class! Very interesting! I will take a great deal of info and ideas away from your class. You've given me much to think about.
Pianka has inspired me to pursue the study of ecology. During my studies in his class I've had epiphanies where the crystalline beauty of the patterns of nature clash into my consciousness. He has helped me see that ecology is my calling. Amen!
Although I did not agree with all of the points made in your lectures concerning the coming of man's armageddon, I was glad to finally have a professor (and yes, you definitely professed) who held a pessimistic view of the world, whose thoughts weren't clouded by biotechnological advances and the almighty superiority of man. Many of Ehrlich's points, I believe, are incorrect and exaggerated, but fortunately, with your emphasis on literature, history and its importance, as well as good experimentation, I understand science better as a whole than ever before. Thank you for this experience.
Instruction was very passionate and presented extremely well (interesting and entertaining)!
Pianka has a passion in the subject of ecology. This is nice.
Best teacher I have ever had.
Content was interesting and taught very well.
Conceptual info was excellent and very interesting. Should be a class dedicated to Pianka's field work, maybe call it "Eric's Story Hour" -- that would be a class I would come back to attend!
Pianka is a great prof who makes you think hard and makes you cry.
This course is excellent & I'm glad I took it now that its over -- But you suffer all semester long . . .
More excerpts from Student Evaluations -- Fall 1999
Excellent job. It's a pleasure to take a course where the professor is interested in the subject matter, interested in conveying it to students, and good at it -- a depressingly rare combination, particularly at the undergrad level. I thought your course was great, and it's given me a lot to think about for my own research. Thanks!
This is by far the most interesting, informative class that I have taken in my 5 years at UT. I learned more in here than in most upper-division Zoo courses I have taken combined! Why Dr. Pianka is great is because he makes you think, which is something I haven't had to do in most of my classes. Thanks for a great class! (Marcus also did a fantastic job as TA -- the best one I've ever had)
The book is well organized and thorough. The lectures roughly mirrored the book although some important points were rushed and other less important points (the lizard niche) were gone over too heavily. At times the lectures were quite entertaining (the parasite lectures).
I enjoyed how the book and lectures were closely connected I enjoyed the prof's enthusiasm for the subject. The prof never talked down to students --- he made learning a cooperative event -- he was open to questions -- which was really great.
He has great organization, an interesting lecturer. Great communication
This was a great course which I learned a lot from.
Excerpts from Student Evaluations -- Fall 2001
Eric Pianka was the most inspiring, enlightening instructor I have ever had. He has a braver worldview than most and his passion for ecology shines through in everything he does. This class has fundamentally changed some of my understanding of the world around me. The TA also helped immensely by translating some of Pianka's thoughts to a level more intelligible by mere undergrads.
Pianka is a GOD!! I have taken biology courses since my first day at UT. Sadly, it isn't until now, that I get connected with my passion for the subject. I wish I had come across Pianka's class earlier and not so late in my senior year.
You are one of the best professors I have ever had Dr. Pianka, and have really stimulated my interest in ecology (I hope to pursue graduate work in marine biology). It is great to learn this material with someone at the forefront of ecology.
I was really impressed with this course. The topics covered hadn't been touched on in many of my classes and I am really glad I took this course. The last sections were especially interesting. Dr. Pianka made the lectures entertaining as well.
It is so nice to finally have a prof. with opinions about what he is teaching! Thank you.
Pianka is so weird. I counldn't stand him at first. I thought he was arrogant and racist but then I learned that he's just upset at us Homo sapiens and he's equally predjudiced to all classes of people. This class was hard! Tests were real hard. You have to study so in depth -- it takes a lot of time. Still, it was fun and very interesting and has many applications in life -- makes you look at life differently. This class was a worthwhile rollercoaster.
Dr. Pianka is extremely informed and an asset to the dept. He exhibits a breadth of knowledge that is applicable to ecology and research science. I enjoyed this class immensely!
Good class. More stories less life tables at start, maybe class was too dry in beginning. Now very interesting.
I really enjoyed the lectures. They are fascinating and explained theoretical concepts very well.
Excellent class! Very interesting and full of information.
Interesting and exciting class.
Some evaluations from Fall 2002
I've really enjoyed this class! Definitely at least one of top two I've taken at UT. I'm now completely convinced I want to study ecology and evolution. You’ve been an incredible professor!
I like Pianka but some of the theories presented seemed contrary to common sense. And some of the figures didn't seem like they should be so lauded (i.e. Hutchinson). But overall I think that the class was worthwhile and thought provoking.
I really enjoyed this class. I learned a lot of useful information about our environment I probably never would have. I now have a greater appreciation for the environment and most of all, lizards!! Thanks.
This class was awesome. It was one of the best I've ever taken.
I really enjoyed the class and your passion for the material is evident and makes the class more interesting.
Good course for grads. I would have liked more time reading and writing papers and less emphasis on exams.
I think that a math class in Differential Equations should be a prerequisite for taking this class.
Very good course, although very intense
Student Evaluations -- Spring 2004
This was by far the greatest Bio class I've taken - you absolutely cannot look at biology without considering the ecology and evolution of the organisms at hand and so many of the crappy micro/molecular classes and the weed-out intro Bio classes here at UT completely lose sight of that. This class finally redeemed my decision to get a Biology degree, and all the gloom & doom, while excessive at times, is frighteningly true (re: pop. explosion, etc.) This was an excellent class.
Eric, you really changed my way of thinking about ecology. It's great to have an evolutionary perspective! And, of course, you increased my knowledge of lizards! Thanks a TON!
Dr. Pianka is the best professor I've had in my time at UT. His lectures are very engaging. Dr. Pianka is a gifted speaker and often defensive!
Excellent prof., made me view nature a lot differently. I appreciate it more.
Dr. Pianka: This lecture was an enjoyable part of my Tue/Thurs lineup. It was refreshing to study a species outside of Homo sapiens with vigor. I have spent hours pondering the mathematical, anecdotal and scientific evidence you presented for evolutionary trends in behavior, body size, and other adaptations. I have a whole new understanding of interactions that have taken me out of my microscopic scientific corner and shown me a glimpse of the macrocosm that contributes to my own beloved field of study - genetics. Thank you so much! Congrats on the new book and keep up the good work.
Dr. Pianka, Very interesting lectures. You were intimidating enough to make me actually listen. This class elaborated a lot on former evolution classes I have taken. I definitely won't have a ton of kids now, to keep the population down for the good of the future planet.
I loved this class and really feel that I view the world from a broader angle now. The one thing I would change is the final - not 50% and cumulative. I've learned more interesting things in this class than any class I've taken at UT.
Prof. Pianka is an excellent professor. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a lecture as much as his. He is opinionated, and I really enjoyed that. Not enough profs are so willing to express their beliefs so openly and bluntly.
I really enjoyed the class. You put a whole new perspective on how humans fit in the world.
This prof. was incredibly insightful and motivated. His stories were great, but the most important thing was that I actually took something w/ me. I did not leave it at the door after the last test.
Instructor broadened my way of thinking and expanded concepts learned in class outside to the real world. This class is worthwhile for its educational value both in evolutionary ecology and in real life situations.
I already thought of most things in evolutionary terms, but you increased my knowledge of evolution and encourged me to strive for a deeper understanding of it. This class was very interesting and stimulating.
I really enjoyed this class. My awareness of the ecology surrounding me has increased tremendously.
Crazy and eccentric, but most definitely the best prof. I've had in my 4 years at UT. Thanks.
Great professor. He has so much passion to share his knowledge and inspire others to change the world. Quite intimidating in class, but definitely made me look at things differently and see a much different side of the worrld.
This course really taught me to weigh information on a broader scale in the context of selection. I really enjoyed this class and yes, the stories were really interesting.
Your class has opened my mind and made me aware of the evil that is anthropocentrism. I think your class should be separated into two semesters so that students are better able to process this information dense material, I would have gotten a lot more out of the course with more time to digest this material.
Although this course was demanding, I now have a better idea of how ecology serves as an important subject in the evaluation of human behavior. This course was so thick with information concerning animals and lizards that the human race is threatening every day in exponential terms, it makes one really sad to realize how distant humans have evolved from other creatures on Earth. The behavior, survival and evolution of animals has strong correlations to humans. This class was a friendly reminder of that.
Although this course was more difficult than I expected, Prof. Pianka influenced me to think in a different manner.
Personality improved over the semester. Do not know if it was grumpy old man or dealing with beginning of semester official BS. My nephew is into lizards and I will send him your web site.
I pretty much share your sentiments on a lot of issues concerning the environment and such. It's just that your class is really hard. So much material, and the concepts are pretty far fetched sometimes. Of course, it'd be great if you could omit the math and all those charts, but I guess you can't. I loved the stories and the simple theories that you can explain in words. Anything beyond that is useless to me.
Dr. Pianka certainly shows thorough knowledge of the material, however at times, especially with the more difficult material, he has trouble teaching the student. Many students don't grasp the calculus involved in this class. Dr. Pianka is a very engaging speaker but needs to work on clarification of the core concepts of the mathematics of the course. Dr. Pianka's presentation of examples, experiments, and real life examples of the concepts is greatly appreciated and helps to illustrate his concepts.
I enjoyed this course, not knowing there were so many equations in ecology.
Equations in books are not as bad anymore. I enjoyed hearing your stories. When looking at files on website, it is hard to figure out which lecture it was sometimes [ERP's response: They are numbered sequentially from 1 to 30]. I learned a lot in this class that I have shared with friends and family.
Enjoyed the class, appreciated your passion for the subject matter, math wasn't THAT bad
This class has helped me face my fear of math and allowed me to see how valuable the models are to evolutionary ecology. I enjoyed the class!
This course has helped me to think more about the world and not just myself. Tests are a bit long though.
It has been interesting to learn all about the lizards.
Excerpts from Student Evaluations -- Fall 2004
This was the most fulfilling class I have had in UT yet. They should make it mandatory!
This has been my best biology professor during my time thus far. He really portays his love for the material, while really teaching with conviction.
I really enjoyed the Eco-Poetry and your perspective on ecology and biology in general. Every Biology and even non-Biology major should take this class.
Dr. Pianka -- Passionate, articulate, inspiring, and imaginative. Nice to take a course from such a prominent scientist and come away with better understanding.
I didn't ever want the last day of class to come. This course has been more valuable to my education and to my life in general than probably any other class at UT. The passion with which Pianka teaches is inspiring. As a keeper at the Austin Zoo/Animal Sanctuary, this course has given me a new outlook and greater respect towards the environment that I help to foster there. I never skipped class, knowing if I did I might miss something fascinating. Thank you, Dr. Pianka, for finally opening my eyes and mind to the world I live in.
Being of the same mindset as you, Dr. Pianka, I greatly appreciate your dedication to educating the university's undergrads about the plight of the earth and how wholly it is underscored by economic goals and successes. The only path to change is education.
I have a much greater empathy for those non-human creatures who are suffering. Much of the info you taught is swept under the rug by politicians and corporations, and I am sad that it took an upper division college course to show me how important this is. I watch commercials with fear seeing all the new disposable products I will not buy. I am not writing this because I did well in this class (I HOPE to get a C!). I was truly touched by your dogma.
Dr. Pianka shows a passion for his work that rubs off on those he's teaching. I really enjoyed his class and it's had an influence in my decision to pursue a career in ecology.
One of the most difficult courses I have taken, but also one of the most interesting. I disliked Dr. Pianka at first but he is a dang good teacher that believes in what he teaches. And that makes all the difference.
Amazing amount of knowledge and Passion to profess = Excellent Instructor
You have shown me new and interesting ideas. I wish more of my professors had the same passion you have. Thanks for the course.
This was an interesting course. I enjoyed listening to what you had to say about everything. Like the enthusiasm ... It helps and shows when you teach.
I don't root for ebola, but maybe a ban on having more than one child. I agree . . . too many people ruining this planet.
Though I agree that conservation biology is of utmost importance to the world, I do not think that preaching that 90% of the human population should die of ebola is the most effective means of encouraging conservation awareness. I found Pianka to be knowledgable, but spent too much time focusing on his specific research and personal views.
Excerpts from Student Evaluations -- Fall 2005
The course was fantastic. My knowledge of the meaning of ecology and evolution has increased dramaticaly. Thanks for a great semester.
Excellent course, passionate instructor. Should be required of Bio/Eco majors. Very insightful.
Dr. Pianka is excellent; he created most of the content of the course. But mostly, he cares. He's realistic, frank and genuine.
Extremely enthusiastic professor with a great passion for teaching. His book was also enjoyable to read. Very happy to have taken this class.
Truly excellent course; I deliberately waited to take ecology until I could take it from Pianka. Most importantly, Pianka teaches in the great tradition of MacArthur, emphasizing the core ideas of ecological thought, which have not changed with new technological developments. One, on completing this course, will be thoroughly prepared to tackle ecological problems in a full philosphically informed way.
I do think that having an excellent TA like Ann Thijs, who brought us up to date on some of the aspects of ecology which were not emphasized in the course, is very important. Finally, I suggest having students read more original literature in the field -- some of the pioneering studies by MacArthur, for example. The rigors of the course certainly prepares us to do so. Thank You.
Student Evaluations -- Spring 2006
I really enjoyed your class!
Best class I've ever taken. Thank you!
He made the subject interesting.
You are an amazing professor. Thank you.
I really enjoyed listening to your anecdotes. I also liked how your power point presentations were full of colorful pictures. Your textbook is very informative and easy to read.
This course is really great. I recommend it to everyone and tell them how it has truly changed the way I think about biology, the world, and my future career. Dr. Pianka is extremely knowledgeable and his personal experiences give the course life and make it seem applicable to the real world.
His misfortune this semester w/ the defamation, death threats, and goring gives new meaning to "the dark days of ecology." I fear for the world, and competency of mankind. The "Greatest Generation" screwed mankind, and Pianka has taught us how to prevent and correct the mistakes and be worthy of being a great generation. Taking this class was well worth the out of state tuition I pay.
Student Evaluations -- Spring 2007
One of the hardest, yet most fascinating courses I have ever had. Ever since I saw Pianka on the news, I knew I had to take his course. A Brilliant Professor.
Pianka, you are great. I would have liked your Doomsday speech. :)
This course has been great, I really feel like it has been of value to me. I intend to, because of this course, live a more ecologically responsible life.
You inspire me to believe that working to save the planet is worth it, and that devoting your life to this mission is not a vain hope.
Thank you not only for this class, but for your lifelong work to help us better understand the fragile Earth and our place within it.
Dr. Pianka covers very important topics in this class that all people should consider. His message is invaluable . . . Overall, good course!
Thanks for the great insight on the environment.
I think Dr. Pianka is a great teacher.
Maybe having some grades coming from classwork, participation, or a project would be good since the exams take up so much of our grade. Otherwise, awesome class.
I really enjoyed this class and your lectures. I like how you tried to keep things interesting and have a sense of humor. The class was good, but hard.
This is one of the best courses I have ever taken -- Dr. Pianka is an engaging lecturer, extremely knowledgable, and I learned a lot over the course of the semester.
All I can say is "thank you." My views have been radically changed -- this is definitely something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Very good lecturer, interesting, and glad that he could share his experiences with us.
Pianka has an abundance of knowlege over this stuff, and his lectures are intriguing and engaging. Many math formulas are difficult to conceptualize without greater information from Pianka or his TA (outside of lecture). But it is all manageable and all worth it.
Most important thing I learned was to avoid aggressive males 15 to 40 yrs old. And, why one should never trust a politician or your mate.
I already had a wilderness survival guide. All I need is the tarp.
Student Evaluations -- Spring 2008
Dr. Pianka is awesome. I loved this class. Very hard in terms of how much info, but worth it. Best class I've taken & Best Prof!
Test questions were sometimes ambiguous. I always believed I completely understood concepts but would mix up ideas on the test and get a low grade. This considered, Pianka and his class is one of the most valuable learning experiences I believe UT could possibly offer.
Thank you sir. Your class has been a welcome breath of fresh air here at UT
It's nice to have a professor who's not afraid to say what everyone else is afraid to say. You've made me think, and I'm worried!
You are a crazy son of a gun. But you kept me laughing while simultaneously teaching me something. Thanks!
Pianka is irreplaceable with his knowledge and experience with ecology. It was interesting to finally see the mathematics I learned in College Algebra applied in such a useful way.
I enjoyed lectures and found them informative, interesting and often times inspirational. Although the tests were challenging, I thought they were fair.
Great class, very enlightening.
I respect and admire you a lot, I hope to find my passion as you have.
I enjoyed your class sooo much! You are totally awesome and you challenged me to work harder than I had for any other course. I wish I saw you more outside of class. Keep Rockin Lizard Man!
Student Evaluations -- Fall 2009
Professor Pianka's course was very insightful. He's a great lecturer and very knowledgeable of the subject. I enjoyed it and feel the information he shared is of great importance and value to me. One of my favorite professors!
Dr. Pianka is an extremely knowledgeable and passionate instructor who seemed to really enjoy sharing his knowledge. My only regret for this course was having a very heavy courseload this semester and not being able to dive into the material more. However, I have all the information that Dr. Pianka has shared and will explore it further at a later date (although it will not benefit my grade). As a government student interested in biological conservation (and recently entering the biology field), I feel that this course was very valuable and that all students should consider this course, no matter what their field of study.
Dr. Pianka is an inspiring professor and it has been a great pleasure being in his class. Some of the material has been difficult to digest. You have tried really hard to give people the chance to ask questions in every class, but sometimes the material is so overwhelming that I'm thinking "hold on, I need to process this a bit", and others are feeling intimidated as well. I think a possible solution would be doing a quick review at the beginning of every lecture to try to clear up things and asking if people have questions after having slept on it. Also, I feel the same way you do about the problems we've (humans) created for ourselves, and so do most people in the class -- lecture time is better spent covering/reviewing difficult material and making more real-life examples. I think it's hard for you to understand what we don't because you've been doing this your whole life and you wrote the book. All that being said, this has been an excellent course. I'm so glad I took it, even though I didn't have to!!
Interesting course material -- very relevant to life. Professor seems to be quite a character! The first week -- 2 lectures were thought provoking and inspiring
Excellent and thought provoking; I was a little surprised that this does not count as statistics credit!
Thank you for the class.
Great class although it does not fall into my major. I have had a lot of difficulty grasping the material. Most of the time I spent more time outside the class trying to understand the material.
Although at some points the course became a little depressing, I loved the class
I liked the material we covered in this class, but I felt like the tests were more in depth than what we discussed in class, so it was a little hard to study effectively for them. It would have been nice to have made biostatistics a prerequisite for this course, I think a lot of the math parts would have made more sense that way.
Sometimes when you ask for questions you forget to look up from the screen and you miss the questions. More problems or exercises on blackboard would be helpful. Sometimes it's difficult to understand the main theme or take home message or content of data, experiments, or diagrams you present in your slides. For example, I'm not sure I understand the take-home message or content of your Australian controlled burn site lesson.
Extremely excessive workload. Hard to tell standing in class because class average was so low without curves. Professor was very informed and did put a lot of work into teaching.
Was too fast. Be a little friendly. Should try and give reviews before each exam.
A little preachy, but for a good cause.
I really enjoyed your course this semester and learned much more than I thought I would. I put more work in this course than any other but it definitely paid off. Thank you and happy holidays.
This was an interesting and well taught class. Thank you for your hard work and time. I feel I have learned a lot.
I found this course to be excellent, informative and thought provoking. Dr. Pianka's passion for his subject is refreshing and inspiring. I genuinely hope others in this class take away at least part of his message and instruction.
Dr. Pianka I would vote for you.
Student Evaluations -- Fall 2010
This class is terrific at causing emotional reactions to the anthropogenic destruction of Earth. I'm rather depressed from the harsh realities of our fate. Pianka is really cool guy. Eh fights lizards and is not afraid of anything.
The class was hard. There is a lot of material and it is sometimes mind boggling. That being said, the instructor forced students to face harsh realities but in a way that was interesting and worthwhile. This course should be required for Bio majors!
I really enjoyed the course. Pianka is one of the most eccentric minds I've seen at UT, and had very unique and sometimes sobering opinions. He is strongly committed to spreading his knowledge, and this shows in every lecture he gives.
I definitely enjoyed this class and the material taught in it. Thanks for a great semester!!
Good course layout and good information.
Eric Pianka is a man who knows and cares deeply for this subject. However, testing on the subject in his class is very difficult as lecture doesn't help as much as it could.
Very broad range of information, difficult to tie together sometimes.
Prof Pianka was a very enjoyable instructor that produced thought provoking situations. Unfortunately I feel that how the course was taught and the expectations demanded were not equal.
I think that the way you see the world causes you a lot of pain and I'm sorry. I respect your passion for the subject you teach.
Professor Pianka has a very different, unique and refreshing view of the world. He is rather morbid about our future but rightly so. I enjoyed listening to his lectures and stories and reading his articles. The course was a little heavier on equations, graphs, and charts than I had anticipated though.
Overall, Pianka was incredibly knowledgeable and very passionate about the topic. I am a physical anthropologist and was very satisfied with the information in the class and was very glad to have gotten so much theoretical detail out of this class. Thanks, Pianka! This is a great subject. I rarely had questions in class but I did feel that when others did that their questions weren't answered well enough. But overall, great class. At times we move very quickly, but I enjoyed that aspect. Others may have struggled, though.
Dr. Pianka is an extremely intelligent professor with an enthusiasm for teaching this subject. However, this does not translate into a well designed course. This class suffers from one problem of breadth, not depth and the tests are designed to measure rote memorization of concepts and "graphicals". The application of all the knowledge he shares is unclear. It is almost as if students are expected to memorize the textbook he wrote. This is an impossible task and not a measure of anyone's true understanding. If the content were streamlined and tests rewritten, I would recommend this class.
Your expertise in this subject was evident and made the course more relevant by including your research. I enjoyed the lectures a great deal and you can tell that you are passionate about Earth's creatures. The only down-side were the tests! Memorizing graphs to regurgitate was such a waste of time and mental energy! I would have enjoyed more conceptual tests and/or problems that asked us to apply and evaluate the material. I'm very glad to take this course, however, and you will be remembered!
While Dr. Pianka might come off as disrespectful to religions harshly, he speaks his mind and has incredibly valuable insight about the world around us . . . He tries to get students to look at the world from other organism's eyes and preaches against anthropocentrism. I think he gets through to only a select few students with minds open enough to go against what they might have previously believed. I'm glad he speaks his mind like he does. If more people had Dr. Pianka's mindset, the world would be a better place for everyone.
Thank you. This was a good course. In particular, I liked the fact you didn't shy away from math. Even if I didn't do as well in this course as I'd have liked, I still feel it was an integral part of my education.
Thank you for infusing this class with so much passion Dr. Pianka. While I strongly disagree with the condemnation you level at people who will believe something different from yourself, I find your opinions interesting and by listening to you I found myself better able to pin down what I myself believe. Thank you for an enriching experience and for clearly sharing so much of yourself with us. Good luck on Spaceship Earth!
I was in your Evolutionary Ecology class last semester and can't help but be thankful for having you as a professor. Your passion for nature in general is contagious and I hope you will continue to inspire other students like me.
This is a terrific class! I especially enjoyed the ecopoetry that you read to us on the last day.
Excerpts from Student Evaluations -- Fall 2011
Your knowledge and passion about the subject and the importance of the natural world reaches all our students and resonates an enlivening passion surely to all my classmates. I am happy to have a professor that does not filter out his opinions. By this you are making a difference (impressionable) by waking up students from their apathetic tendencies. Thank you. It's unfortunate I have to drop your class, but the grade isn't that important.
Wow! I really enjoyed the course. While there were ups and downs and more complex math than I was expecting, it was well taught. Some of the ideas and themes presented got a bit old with time, but the passion with which you teach the class and believe in what you teach is evident. I am grateful to finally have found a professor who believes in the same things I do and is not shy about expressing these views.
I was surprised at how appealing I found the subject, especially the mathematical concepts towards the end of the course. I had been struggling to define my interests for graduate school and hesitant to declare wanting to study mathematical modelling without knowing anything about it. I am eagerly awaiting my copy of MacArthur's Geographical Ecology in the mail and look forward to hopefully pursuing this passion in graduate school next year. Thank you so much!!!
You were a great professor and truely opened my eyes to the excitment of evolutionary ecology. Your lectures were entertaining.
The level of detail required on the exams came as a surprise after the relaxed nature of the lectures. Handouts were very helpful to prepare for tests.
Gettin' old man! But still a smart mind.
Interesting character. Enjoyed the class Not going to remember any of the graphs or matrices, but I will remember concepts.
We need more professors like Pianka in this world!
This class = life changing
Enjoyed the class, but I wish you didn't mention religion in such a negative light, it is very turn offish
Pianka is the badass of the biological school
Pianka for President! Awesome Dude
Excerpts from Student Evaluations -- Fall 2012
Eric Pianka is the most passionate professor I have had thus far. He's a great lecturer and wishes to help his students
This was a wonderful class. Dr. Pianka is quirky and inspiring. I think this class should be required for all Biology majors and encouraged for non majors. The content was difficult but very interesting and worthwhile. This has been one of the best classes I have taken at UT and I highly recommend it to anyone. Some people may say they don't like this class but they are the students who were not willing to put in time outside of class, go to discussions, and ask questions. This is by far one of the best upper division biology classes UT has to offer. Pianka is amazing and passionate about the subject and I am honored that I got the opportunity to have him as a teacher. Thank you!
Pianka's obviously brilliant. Sometimes he rushes through important material and doesn't fully explain it which can be frustrating. The tests are hard, but fair.
Dr. Pianka is truly a man of science, a scientist in every sense of the word. I thoroughly enjoyed all of his anecdotes, but my only critique is that he taught this more like a theoretical ecology class than an evolutionary-based class. We learned little of evolution but a lot of theoretical ecology. But at the same time, that is his specialty.
Thank you, Dr. Pianka, for sharing what you have learned in life with us. Your experiences were fascinating and your insights intriguing. You have alot to offer the world. Take care and very best. CH
Dr. Pianka is the most incredible professor. He is a vast source of knowledge and he teaches so thoroughly that a student who does not learn has only themselves to blame. His stories are not only educationally valuable, but so entertaining. Pianka's research in the Australian desert is so fascinating and can be applied so easily to the material in the course. I am so lucky to have had Pianka, and I am excited for any student that has the benefit of taking his class in the future.
LOVED this course. If you taught all my classes, I would only purchase textbooks because of overwhelming desire to garner as much knowledge as possible -- the only class I've taken that's actually inspired me to tear open the subject matter and feel the heart of the material. Please do not stop professing, for the future students need your knowledge. Thank you for reminding me why I chose Biology, not for med school, not for my career, but for my passion for knowledge of all things living, and just how precious every Earthling is.
I had always been concerned about the issues you are so passionate about but taking your course has taken it to the next level for me. Even though it has caused a deeper concern and disappointment in my view of life, I think the information you gave us is essential for EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING. I'm not really sure how to go on about to process this new found extreme view on things, but nevertheless, THANK YOU. I am extremely proud to have to have taken this course from such an inspirational person and I will carry all of this for the rest of my life and, hopefully, pass it on to others in a meek effort to make a difference. I hope you never fail to find hope and joy in your life. It was an honour.
This has been one of my favorite classes that I have taken. You are an outstanding lecturer and I thoroughly enjoyed your anecdotes, and you are able to tie them into the course material better than any other professor I have had. I would not say you have changed my way of thinking, necessarily, because I already feel the same way you do in regards to humanity and the fate of the Earth as it stands right now, if we continue the way we have been going. I do want to thank you for trying to open others' eyes to these things as well. Kind regards.
Dr. Pianka is an irreplaceable treasure. His experience and perspective are invaluable. There was at times a seeming lack of focus, where evolutionary ecology and applied human conservation ecology were alternated without blending together into a cohesive whole. For instance, in the epidemiology unit, the mathematical characteristics of epidemics were introduced, followed by a lecture on the possibility of a devastating human flu. Perhaps we could have learned what values would be required for flu pandemic and compare with historical Spanish flu values. I also would have liked to see more demonstration of mathematics in class.
Great course. However, I felt like some of the material covered on the tests (particularly #2) was unclear and overly specific. As a graduate student, I felt like I had to spend too much time studying for exams. I would have also preferred more time/material devoted to the community/ecosystem than we had in the last one third of the class.
For negative reviews from dissatisfied, usually poorer, students who just didn't 'get it' (I am saddened by this and feel sorry for them), see the "my Edu" or "Pick-a-Prof" web sites.
Last updated February 2013 by Eric R. Pianka