(Posted March 7, 2016)

Norris Muth, associate professor of biology.
Norris Muth, associate professor of biology.

-HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Norris Muth, associate professor of biology at Juniata College, gets to the root of the truths and myths about invasive plant species in the talk "Dr. Strange-olive: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Live with Invasive Species," at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 16, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The talk is part of the college's Bookend Seminar series, a monthly talk by a member of Juniata's faculty.

Muth, who is trained as a botanist, will discuss whether it matters if natural habitats were comprised of native plants or species that originated elsewhere. He will use several species of olive plants, such as Russian olive and Autumn olive, as examples. He will explain how native and invasive species can populate urban and suburban areas.

The discussion also will cover the risks posed by non-native plants and whether or not it is ethical to spray or destroy invasive species instead of letting nature take its course.

Muth also will explain how homeowners and landscape managers can encourage others to use native plants, while laying out an argument to gauge the difficulty of using native plants rather than non-native species.
Muth joined the Juniata faculty in 2007 as an assistant professor of biology. Before coming to Juniata, Muth worked as a postdoctoral researcher and teaching associate at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., from 2005 to 2007.

He earned a bachelor's degree in environmental studies in 1997 from Brown University, in Providence, R.I. and went on to earn a master's degree in forestry science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 1999. He earned a doctorate in ecology and evolution from the State University of New York, Stony Brook in 2006.

He was promoted to associate professor in 2013.

From 1999 to 2004, Muth worked as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., where he taught classes in evolution, biodiversity, plant ecology and general ecology.

His research interests center on conservation biology, community ecology and the history and philosophy of science. He is particularly interested in how to assess the impact of biological invasions of species and how biological communities interact and react to invasive species.

Muth has taught courses in general biology, evolutionary biology, natural history interpretation and the history and philosophy of science. In addition to his academic career, Muth also worked as a research librarian at the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Conn. from 1997 to 1998 and worked as a U.S. National Park Service ranger in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and at the San Juan Islands National Historical Park in Friday Harbor, Wash.

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.