ASU professor earns lifetime achievement award for excellence in herpetology

April 18, 2019

James P. Collins, professor with Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences, was recently awarded the Henry S. Fitch Award for Excellence in Herpetology from the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

This award is given annually to recognize an individual for long-term excellence in the study of amphibian and/or reptile biology, based principally on the quality of the awardee’s research; consideration is also given to educational and service impacts of the individual’s career. School of Life Science professor James Collins School of Life Sciences professor James P. Collins is an evolutionary ecologist who studies amphibians, along with viral and fungal pathogens, as models for studying factors that control populations dynamics. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASUNow Download Full Image

Collins has dedicated his career to studying amphibians, first understanding their metamorphosis and now trying to prevent their decline.

According to a statement released by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, his second peer-reviewed paper, which was published in “Science,” is “undeniably the most influential paper on the ecological tradeoffs associated with amphibian metamorphosis.”

Collins has published more than 140 edited volumes, book chapters and peer-reviewed articles, including a recent popular book, “Extinction in Our Times: Global Amphibian Decline.”

man holding award in lab

SOLS professor James Collins earned the Henry S. Fitch Award for his pioneering work studying amphibians. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASUNow

He has also mentored 23 master's degree students and 20 PhD students while also working for several organizations geared toward the advancement of science, such as the National Science Foundation; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine; American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Association for Women in Science. Additionally, he served on the National Science and Technology Council under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The award is presented in honor of the long and productive career of Henry S. Fitch, which makes the distinction even more significant to Collins.

“I have been a member of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists since I was a graduate student. The Fitch Award is arguably the highest recognition granted by the society,” Collins said.

“It is an honor to have my colleagues feel that the accomplishments during my career merit this recognition. It is especially humbling to glance through the list of prior Fitch Award recipients, researchers I have known and whose work I have admired. It is a real honor to have my work judged worthy to be included in this group of distinguished investigators.”

Melinda Weaver

Communications specialist, School of Life Sciences


Personal Growth in Human Relationships class helps graduate find her field of study

April 18, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Cami Mcintire, a family and human development major in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University, talks about the importance of taking classes you love, getting to know your faculty and following your passion.  ASU student Cami Mcintire Cami Mcintire, a family and human development major in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, says her top tip for students is to get to know faculty. Download Full Image

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I actually started my freshman year here at ASU as an undeclared major because I was hesitant on getting into a field I wasn’t going to love. I met with an academic adviser, and she told me a lot of students here at ASU enjoyed taking a Personal Growth in Human Relationships class in the family studies department. I took the class based off her suggestion and fell in love. By the end of my first semester I was actually upset the course was coming to an end. So, the beginning of my second semester I picked up my family and human development major.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: After picking up my women and gender studies minor, I began enrolling in courses that discussed topics like women’s bodies and women’s international health. These courses were eye-opening for a young woman like myself. I enjoyed the topics, discussions and overall environment that went on in those types of classes. Other students became vulnerable as we discussed sensitive topics, and I had never experienced anything like it; I loved it. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I always knew I was going to stay in state because my family would not have been able to afford to visit me had I moved out of state. Being close to home (she is from Gilbert, Arizona) humbles me and allows me to take mental breaks when need be. I also knew research was something I wanted to be a part of when I started college, and because ASU is an R1An R1 university is one that is doctoral-granting and has what is classified as "very high research activity" in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. institution, I felt like it was kind of a perfect fit.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: No doubt about it, Sarah Lindstrom Johnson. Not only has she taught me so much academically and within the classroom, she has also taught me how to better myself and has provided me opportunities I would have never even knew existed. One of the most important lessons I think I’ve learned from her is how to trust the process. I always feel like I’m falling behind or not doing enough, but she has always been there to ground me.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Get to know your faculty! I know it is so cliche, but it is so very valuable. They are there with and for you so take advantage of that! You will need those connections if you choose to pursue a graduate-level degree, and many of them are plugged into the job market and various opportunities that they may share with you. It is all about who you know!

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: When it’s not too hot, Hayden Lawn is a great place to meet up with friends, study, read or eat. I love bringing a small blanket and just lounging out there!

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am currently in the process of finding an internship for my gap year. I also work at a speech therapy clinic so I will continue there until I figure out what I want to go to graduate school for.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Working to end starvation. It makes my stomach turn thinking about the fact that there are people all over the world who are not capable of buying, growing and/or preparing any type of food, yet I am able to Postmates just about anything …