Dr. Ralph E. Brooks
Bachelor of Arts in Biology 1972
In the summer of 1965, when he was a freshman at Shawnee Mission North High School in Kansas City, Dr. Ralph E. Brooks was already “on the road” traveling with renown botanist, Steve Stephens. They were collecting plants for the University of Kansas and a young botanist was learning skills to last a lifetime. By the time he was a junior in high school, he authored his first publication, entitled Ferns in Kansas. He wrote and illustrated a compendium of ferns in the state for the Kansas School Naturalist, a natural history series, published by the Department of Biological Sciences at Emporia State University. This booklet has been reprinted over the years and remains a standard that is in use today. The young botanist continued his interest in plants as an undergraduate at ESU under the influence of Dr. James S. Wilson. He graduated with a BA degree in 1972. He earned an M.A. in 1974 and a Ph.D. in Botany in 1989 from the University of Kansas. He is also a certified Wetland Delineation Specialist. Following graduation, Dr. Brooks joined the staff at the Macgregor Herbarium at the University of Kansas. He was one of the editors and a major contributor to the Flora of the Great Plains and the Atlas of the Great Plains. He also wrote the chapter on the Juncaceae, the rush family, for the Flora of North America. In 1991, after a 20 year career in botany, Dr. Brooks joined the environmental engineering firm of Black and Veatch in Portland, Oregon where he is a Senior Environmental Scientist. He manages and coordinates environmental studies and oversees permitting to insure that the regulations of environmental agencies are met. He has professional expertise in wetland areas, threatened and endangered species, and plant ecology. Dr. Brooks, an avid fly fisherman, is never happier than when he is wader deep in a wild western river.
Illustration by Iralee Barnard
Photos by [left to right] Greg Sievert