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Dr. Janis Bush

Janis Bush, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental Science and Ecology

What did your journey to UTSA look like and are you fixed-term track or tenure track?
I started at UTSA as a freshman in the summer of 1977, after graduating from MacArthur High School in San Antonio. I earned by bachelor's degree in biology in 1981, and my master's degree in biology in 1984. After working as a researcher associate at Texas A&M, I returned in 1985 as a fixed-term track faculty member. I earned by doctorate in 2002 from UTEP in Environmental Science and Engineering while working at UTSA and began my tenure track position in 2004. I am now a professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Ecology.

What do you enjoy most about your area of study?
I love nature. My area of study, plant ecology, allows me to work outside in many interesting and unique areas. I love the process of scientific inquiry – designing an experiment, collecting the data, analyzing the data, and telling the story. The process is so multifaceted and allows creativity.

What are some of the most notable research projects that you've been involved in?
My early research focused on factors that lead to encroachment of woody plants into grasslands. But I have also worked in deserts, tall-grass prairies, and forested areas. While I am a plant ecologist, I have published studies on the role of forest management on small mammal and herpetofauna and most recently have finished a study for the State of Texas on the status of monarch butterflies and milkweed across the state.

What is your proudest moment with the COS?
There are several moments that stand out for me: 1) receiving a National Science Foundation grant as a fixed-term faculty member, 2) when our program became a department in 2017, 3) receiving the stoles from several seniors after graduation, and 4) serving for 18 months as Associate Dean.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Having my research inform management decisions and seeing my students become scientists.

How would you spend your ideal Saturday?
Working in my yard and garden. I make a great pasta sauce from my garden vegetables!

What are your book recommendations?
Not a specific book. I love American history books. I am working my way through, in order, the biographies of the U.S. presidents (rather slowly right now).


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