Tom Gavin’s Recent Trip to Taiwan

Robin and Tom Gavin (Professor Emeritus) recently returned from a month-long visit to Taiwan.  Tom was invited by his former grad student, Hsiao-wei Yuan, to participate in the 6th annual Biodiversity, Agriculture, and Culture of Taiwan (BACT) course.  The course is for undergraduates and lasts four weeks.  Students heard numerous lectures from faculty at National Taiwan University (NTU) on campus, but spent at least half the time traveling to museums, experimental farms and forests, biodiversity institutes, volcanoes, earthquake sites, coastal zones, marine research facilities, etc. where they were guided by local experts.  This year, the course contained 25 students from Taiwan, China, and the United States.  The entire course was given in English.

Tom gave several lectures and was the resident faculty advisor to students.  Taiwan treats foreign academic visitors extremely well, so the Gavins had a fantastic experience and learned a great deal about this beautiful country and its culture.  We hope that this will become an annual event for us.  In addition, NTU’s faculty is excellent; I met several who received their Ph.D. from Cornell.

Any DNR undergrads who might be interested in this June-July course in 2013 may contact Jack Hsu at

An Update on Hsiao-wei Yuan

In 1993, Hsiao-wei Yuan obtained her Ph.D. from the Department of Natural Resources.  She studied Common Terns on Oneida Lake.  Many former undergrads of the department will remember her as that energetic Teaching Assistant for Introductory Field Biology (then NTRES 210).  Hsiao-wei returned to her native Taiwan and became an Assistant Professor in the School of Forestry and Resource Conservation, National Taiwan University (NTU) (often referred to as the Harvard of Taiwan).  Hsiao-wei is now a Professor in her department, and last year became Dean of the Office of International Affairs for NTU, which requires a great deal of international travel.

Hsiao-wei teaches courses in Bird Ecology and Conservation, Wildlife Ecology, Wildlife Habitat, and Wildlife Management.  She and her grad students conduct research on several of Taiwan’s interesting birds, including the social Taiwan Yuhina.

In June, Tom Gavin (Hsaio-wei’s former major advisor at Cornell) will visit her in Taiwan, give several lectures, and advise students on their research projects at Sitou Experimental Forest.  Although his trip is planned for a month, he has vowed not to return to the states until he is fluent in Mandarin, or at least until he can hold an intelligent conversation with Hsiao-wei’s mother, who speaks no English.

Contact info for Hsiao-wei Yuan:

Dr. Tom Gavin’s CAPE Lecture

Dr. Tom Gavin, Professor Emertus of the Department of Natural Resources, presented: My Life as a Field Biologist: from Deer to Digital Book in 40 Short Years. to the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti (CAPE) on December 8, 2011.

Tom Gavin’s lecture provided a panoramic reprise of his research career as a Field Biologist by way of four major projects, all using marked individuals to illuminate larger aspects of animal behavior and ecology. He explored 1) the naturally skewed mortality pattern in an isolated, nonhunted population of Columbian white-tailed deer, 2) the adult Bobolink’s propensity to return to its previously used nesting site despite its annual migratory trip of thousands of miles , 3) how understory forest birds in Costa Rica live in a landscape that has been fragmented by humans, and 4) and the demise and conservation of the Idaho Ground Squirrel.

To download the lecture, click here.

Life at DrTom’s

Thomas A. Gavin, Professor Emeritus, retired from DNR in 2008.  Originally referred to by his students as DrTom, he now spends time writing blogs, which can be found at  His writing covers almost every topic, although natural history and organisms are a constant theme.  He is also active on Facebook, where he describes himself as a Facebook slut, at  He has located and friended hundreds of former DNR students on Facebook, so it a good place to find discussions relevant to this field.  Earlier this year, DrTom published a digital book titled “Life at DrTom’s: Mostly humorous anecdotes by a mostly retired Cornell professor”.  The promotional site for his collection of short essays is  He is also active on the Conservation Advisory Council in Danby, NY.

DrTom will be giving a lecture for the CAPE Lecture Series (Cornell Association of Professors Emeritii) on Dec. 8, 10:30am in the Boyce Thompson Auditorium titled “My life as a field biologist: from deer to digital book in 40 short years”.