ames Haney cant leave well enough alone, particularly when he sees
a way to make life more interesting. When a doctor advised him to spend
20 minutes on the treadmill each day, Haney returned with a counterproposal.
What if he were to race through his weightlifting and calisthenicswould
that be enough aerobic exercise? The doctor agreed.
A treadmill? For Haney? It never could have worked. A
Pygmalion at heart, the professor of zoologys career has been distinguished
by a willingness to embrace change. When he first came to UNH to teach
freshwater biology 27 years ago, Haneys lectures came straight out
of textbooks. Before too long, he dispensed with rote learning tools and
let student excitement guide his teaching.
Once a course is over, says Haney. I
always feel it could have been done better, and the next time I teach
it, I try something different. I want to give students the opportunity
to do things they havent done before. Thats when they are
at their best, and its much more interesting to me.
The annual waiting list for Field Limnology speaks to
the success of this philosophy. Because of the intensity of the work and
the cost of the equipment involved in a field study of freshwater habitats,
Haney and co-instructor Alan Baker have to limit the course to 15 students
each spring. Acceptance into the course is competitive and decided by
For many students, this course is the highlight
of their undergraduate experience, and they return to tell us so,
says Baker, a professor of plant biology. I attribute this mostly
to Jims incredible foresight. He has masterminded the courses
evolution since the early 1970s.
Its an evolution that has matched Haneys changing
philosophy on how science is conducted and taught. It is an exciting time
to be a scientist, he says, now that we are coming out of our pigeon
holesmicrobiologists, zoologists, resource economists, botanists,
geneticists. Finding answers to fundamental questions requires an integrated
approach as does teaching the next generation of scientists.
Which is why Haney decided to give his Field Limnology
students an opportunity to integrate research, collegial review, and public
service. Working with a local lakes association, each student designs
a study to examine a water quality issue in a particular lake, pond, or
stream. Students collect and analyze data and write a manuscript, which
they first submit to one another for an anonymous peer review, and later
to Haney and Baker.
Students like doing something thats genuine,
says Haney. This gives them the experience of investigating real
problems and responding to critical review, just as they will have to
do if they pursue a career in research.
The professional quality of the students reports
is such that Haney wont allow them to sit in a corner of his office
gathering dust. He found the funds to make them available on the World
Wide Web and at libraries in the state, so the public can make use of
data gathered by the students.
Alongside teaching, Haney is chair of the Department of
Zoology. He is cofounder of the Lakes Lay Monitoring Program, a citizen-based
research network that monitors the quality of more than 250 freshwater
bodies throughout New Hampshire. He recently translated one of the textbooks
used for his General Limnology course from its original German. He keeps
an ambitious schedule, and often finds that he has more ideas than time
to fulfill them. But he wouldnt have it any other way.
When I was in college, I thought a profession had
to be serious business, and that ones most passionate interests
were best left as hobbies, says Haney. I learned the hard
way [he explored chemistry, prelaw, and German before freshwater biology]
that both work and hobbies should be fun. So, I always ask my students:
If you could have as much fun as you possibly canwhat would you
do? Then I tell them they should do that for a living.
Dolores Jalbert, University Publications