Emeritus and Retired Faculty and Staff Association

Douglas Alexander, PhD*


Department of Biological Sciences
Deceased: 2019

Professor Emeritus Douglas “Doug” Alexander’s lifelong passion for ecology, and his crucial research and advocacy regarding vernal pools, has inspired generations of Chico State biology students.

Alexander earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado Boulder and a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was hired at Chico State in 1965 and taught biology on campus for 35 years before retiring. He died in 2019.

While in Chico, Alexander focused his research on local native species and habitats. In particular, the distinctive and ephemeral vernal pool ecosystems found in Butte County, which became the subject of many class trips, student papers, research projects, and peer-reviewed publications.

The vernal pools at the Vina Plains Preserve were the primary location for Alexander’s research. He wrote the management plan for the area and received an award from the Nature Conservancy for his work on its behalf. His expertise also led to him being named to the Vernal Pool Ecosystem Recovery Plan Implementation Team by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“He was an amazing man, enthusiastic teacher, and a mentor,” said Heidi West, program manager for San Joaquin River Conservancy.

Alexander collaborated with other community members, many former students of his, advocating for the preservation of vernal pools. He was involved in the founding of the Butte Environmental Council, and had also been an active member of AquAlliance, which seeks to protect the northern Sacramento River watershed.

Alexander’s love for, and knowledge about, ecology inspired many of his former students to enter the field.

“Doug Alexander had a significant impact on his students, his major field of research, and the environment of Northern California,” said Barbara Vlamis, executive director of AquAlliance. “I took “Conservation Ecology” in the fall of 1989, and I still have a file with handouts, tests, and reports from that class.”

Alexander was a member of Phi Sigma, the biological sciences honor society, the Ecological Society of America, and the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

Alexander and his wife, Kathy, were longtime supporters of many Chico community organizations, including the North State Symphony, North State Public Radio and the Chico State Herbarium. Alexander also enjoyed sharing his infectious curiosity about science in occasional columns in the Chico News & Review.

Portrait of Douglas Alexander, PhD*