Bio: Don Culwell, Ph.D.

Dr. Don Culwell
Dr. Don Culwell, Programs Director

Don’s first 18 years were spent in De Soto, MO, just south of St. Louis. There he became a Boy Scout and rose to the rank of Eagle. It was his love of the outdoors that led him into Scouting and later the study of biology. He pursued his B.S. degree at Southeast Missouri State University, earned his M.A. in botany at Indiana University and his Ph.D. in plant taxonomy at the University of North Carolina. These provided qualifications for him to teach college students, a love he had discovered years before as an undergraduate teaching assistant.

Don retired as Professor of Biology at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway in 2007 where for 37 years he taught Plant Taxonomy, Biology of Lower Plants and Fungi, Biology of Seed Plants, Field Studies in Biology, and Biology for General Education. He worked in the Academic Advising Center part-time (where all UCA freshmen are advised) during his last three years. During his tenure he was the curator of the Biology Department’s Vascular Plant Herbarium (19,000 specimens in the collection) and was the director of the Jewel E. Moore UCA Nature Reserve located on the UCA campus (18 acre virgin prairie and lowland woods). Service at UCA also included managing the Biology Department greenhouse and sponsoring the Biology Club. While teaching at UCA Don often made biological-botanical presentations for classrooms of grade school students, clubs and other organizations, and led numerous field trips.

In 1980 Don was the founding president of the Arkansas Native Plant Society, with a current membership of 450 and was a member of the Arkansas Academy of Science and the Arkansas Vascular Flora Committee that is writing a manual of the vascular flora of Arkansas.

Honors conferred during his 37 years at UCA include the University Teaching Excellence Award (1985), the University Public Service Award (2003), and UCA Distinguished Professor Emeritus status (2010).

Don is an avid gardener who enjoys extensive hiking, camping, and canoeing; of considerable importance in his life is his practice of the Christian faith.

Don and his wife, Debbie (who have 2 married children), enjoy extensive travel, observing nature, cooking indoors and out, and entertaining.