Aerial photograph of the Immaculate Conception Chapel

Get to know Dr. Jeffrey Kavanaugh

Jeffrey KavanaughDr. Jeffrey Kavanaugh, lecturer in the Department of Biology, says that his job is not just a job but a lifestyle.  He gets to do what he thinks is important and help make the world a better place.  Since he was a child, Jeff always had an interest in nature and the environment.  This led him to earn a bachelor's degree in environmental studies, a master’s degree in entomology and a PhD in biology studying aquatic ecology. Jeff now advocates for the welfare of animals and the environment and gets to do so through his positions at the University of Dayton.

Prior to coming to UD, Jeff worked in academia and for private businesses. Jeff started in the private sector as a toxicologist right after graduate school. He then taught and conducted research at the University of West Florida for seven years. After working at UWF, he became a human health and wildlife risk assessment consultant. While working as a consultant, Jeff realized that he preferred the academic environment, which led him to finding a position at the University of Dayton, where he has been for the past 10 years.

Jeff uses his diverse background and experiences from the private sector to enhance his teaching. His knowledge of working for private businesses helps him to enrich his teaching and makes him a better instructor.

Jeff has taught nine different courses while at the University of Dayton and has received over $100,000 in grants and contracts to complete ecological restoration work. He has created projects for stream and wetland restoration.  These projects provide students with valuable job and research skills. He also works with Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honor Society. Every year, the organization participates at TechFest, a weekend-long event in which local school children learn about science through interactive exhibits. Beta Beta Beta has had an exhibit at TechFest for the past eight years. They teach the children about anatomy by using a shark as an example. Jeff states that based on evaluations by the approximately 3,000 children who attend every year the Beta exhibit is one of the most popular exhibits at TechFest.

More about Dr. Jeffrey Kavanaugh

If Jeff didn't have to work anymore he would want to continue to work with animals and the environment. He would volunteer to foster animals and work at the Humane Society. Since animal welfare is one of his interests, he would still want that to be a part of his life.

Jeff says teaching is the one aspect of his job that he enjoys most. He likes getting students excited about biology and helping them become well-educated scientists.

One thing on Jeff's bucket list is to develop an Ohio River summer course. The course will be associated with the Rivers Institute (which Jeff has been involved with since the organization was founded in 2005) and will consist of an interdisciplinary approach to appreciating the role that the Ohio River plays in the Dayton region.  The course will consist of a boat trip down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River and students will study biology and geology as they travel down the river while also learning about the economics, history and impact of human development along the river. Jeff describes it as a Huckleberry Finn adventure.

Jeff's hobbies consist of hiking with his dog, canoeing and fishing.  He also collects comics. He wants to collect every Peanuts comic ever published.  He enjoys older comics from the early 1900s.

Being elected as the chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is the most exciting thing that has happened to Jeff lately. The primary objective of the committee is to ensure the welfare of animals used in research by making sure that animal nutrition, housing and sanitation needs are met with the highest standards. As chair of IACUC, Jeff works with university staff, faculty, administrators and community partners to make sure animals are being taken care of.  He says this is a rewarding position for him, since he is interested in the welfare of animals and the environment.