A Passion for New England Wildlife

Q&A with assistant professor Christopher Whittier, V97
Professor and students researching on a river.
Chris Whitter, V97, surveys aquatic wildlife with students in the Blackstone River.

Dr. Christopher Whittier, V97
Director, MS in Conservation Medicine program
Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health

What is your hometown and/or where did you spend your adolescent years?  
I grew up in the mountains of northern New Hampshire and spent most of my time playing sports, playing in the woods, and getting in trouble as we did in the ’70s. We had a small family farm and cats and dogs, but I never really thought about being a vet until I was in college.

What inspired you to become an educator or researcher?
As a kid I wanted to be some sort of scientist, but the veterinary and teaching part didn’t gel until later. I grew up with modest resources and was fortunate to have scholarships help carve a path for my education, including Cummings School for a D.V.M. and North Carolina State for a Ph.D. I value education and the importance of connecting with your teachers, but I also love research and answering scientific questions aimed at helping conserve wildlife.

What do you most enjoy about working at Cummings School?  
I’m inspired every day by our students who want to make the world a better place for all its inhabitants. I love to interact with them, to teach them, and especially to learn from them, which I think is often overlooked.

What is your passion (or some of your interests) academically or personally?
Academically I’m interested in all aspects of wildlife conservation and am slowly turning my attention away from African apes to local New England wildlife. On the personal side, my undergrad degrees were in both biology and studio art. Although I don’t manage to paint or draw often, I’ve turned to photography as a means of artistic expression, including a bit of an obsession with camera trapping.

Can you share something about yourself that may be surprising or unexpected?
I joke that although I can’t sing and dance, I’ve covered the “triple threat” of “acting” in TV commercials, TV shows/documentaries, and theatrical movies.

Do you have a pet or pets? Tell us about them.
We have a rescued dog (that was never house-trained), an inherited catfish (that has far outlived his fellow fish and life expectancy), and two cats, most notably a 19-year-old that we treated as a kitten and brought back from living in Rwanda.