Greg Spyreas '97
After graduating from Denison in 1997 with his degree in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Biology, Greg Spyreas attended Southern Illinois University for a masters degree in Plant Biology/Plant Ecology where he became interested in natural areas of biology, conservation, and restoration.
Greg currently lives in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois where he is a research scientist in plant ecology for the Illinois Natural History Survey, within the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability at the University of Illinois. Greg works on a Midwestern vegetation and flora surveying, inventorying and analysis project called CTAP and spends a lot of his summer traveling and doing field work. His work also involves collaboration with University scientists and scientists from governmental agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA, as well as non-profit conservation groups like The Nature Conservancy. Greg loves working with outside groups when they need botanical/ecological expertise for he is able to put his skills to use either in the field or on specific applied projects.
The most important contributions the Environmental Studies program had on his education and professional development include, “1) A broad well-rounded understanding of environmental issues (energy, biological, political, social sciences, religious, etc.), and an ability to put environmental issues in their larger context. 2) A focus on good writing, good communication, and PR in general, with respect to environmental issues. 3) The ability to work well in groups (because of small class sizes, problem solving activities, interaction with professors, etc); and 4) A sense of optimism, excitement, and confidence from knowing that some of the most energetic, dedicated, and all around best students/professors on campus were in my major”.
Spyreas advises current students to “seek out people who are really good at what they do and study them. These people are hard to come by in any field, and are really valuable to watch and learn from. When I say 'good at what they do' I don’t necessarily mean the ones who get awards or who have the biggest titles or make the most money or get the best grades, but the people who really do get things done and who affect positive change."