Luther alum Eric Sievers (‘10) returns to give first Biology Colloquium presentation of spring semester


Eric Sievers (‘10) is currently a senior ecologist at Wildlands Conservation in Tampa, Florida. (Photo courtesy of Brian Hiester)

As part of the spring 2022 Biology Colloquium lineup, Luther alum Eric Sievers (‘10) gave a presentation titled: “A Conservation Journey from Iowa to Florida, with a few stops along the way” on Thursday, February 17, over Zoom. In his presentation, Sievers outlined his journey, from graduating from Luther in 2010 to his current job as a senior ecologist at the non-profit organization Wildlands Conservation in Tampa, Florida.


During the course of his presentation, Sievers talked to students about the study abroad opportunities, internships, and summer experiences that led him toward becoming a conservationist. This included studying abroad in Cosandga, Ecuador at the Yanayacu Biological Research Station and writing his graduate school research thesis on “Reintroduction Biology of Head-Started Ornate Box Turtles” while at Missouri State University. Sievers also outlined the responsibilities of his current position at Wildlands Conservation; he works on a number of projects connected to gopher tortoise conservation, which includes the training, mapping, and habitat management of the turtles. Overall, Sievers said the main purpose of his presentation was to show students popular post-college employment options, and to offer career advice.


“Gaining experience and trying new things that you think might be an interesting career are the best ways to see if you like it,” Sievers said. “I think it is valuable for students to hear about possible career options, and the sometimes nonlinear paths alumni take to get to their current roles.”


Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Brian Hiester primarily chose Sievers to give the talk because he was an alumni, and he believed that students would be able to see themselves in the speaker. Hiester appreciated Sievers’ insights about transitioning from Luther to his current job.


One of the things that I liked about [Sievers’ presentation] is that he talked about the couple of years in between Luther and graduate school, and how he tried some things that maybe weren’t necessarily directly related to his graduate work, or even what he’s doing now,” Hiester said. “It’s been 12 years and he’s figured out a way to carve out his career, so I think a lot of students really appreciated seeing the path that he took to get to where he’s at now.”


One of these students was biology major Jens Bjorge (‘24). Bjorge said that even though he plans to use his biology degree to find a career in a healthcare-focused field, he thinks Sievers’ presentation was important because it showed the value of research during (and after) college.


“It was interesting hearing the firsthand experience of a Luther alum, [seeing] where he started and where he ended up,” Bjorge said. “A lot of these programs were available to him through Luther, and it’s pretty cool that our school prepares students for life in their preferred career field.”


Sievers, reflecting on his time at Luther over ten years ago, said he never imagined that he would one day be a presenter at a Biology Colloquium at Luther. He enjoyed reconnecting with professors, faculty, and students over email and Zoom, and commended students for being engaged with his presentation.


“The Luther community is extremely special, and it was great to be back, even if it was virtually,” Sievers said. “The students attending the presentation were engaged and asked more insightful questions than I did as a student. While speaking virtually limits some of the student-presenter interactions, I hope that they found my presentation helpful and interesting.”


The next scheduled Biology Colloquium presentation will be on Thursday, March 17 at 9:40 a.m. in Valders 206. Dr. Adrian Ting, a professor of Immunology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, will speak on the “Role of Cell Death in Immune Responses.”