Dr. Robert A. Thomas is an academician, a business/environmental community liaison, a media source for environmental news, and a family man. He was the Founding Director of the Louisiana Nature Center, where he served as the liaison for the community in information pertaining to science education, environmental issues, and natural history.
Dr. Thomas is a professor of Mass Communication, holds the Loyola Chair in Environmental Communication, is an adjunct professor of Biological Sciences, sits on the Environmental Sciences Faculty, and is the Founding Director of the Center for Environmental Communication at Loyola University New Orleans. He is the recipient of the 2011 Dux Academicus award at Loyola.
Dr. Thomas received his Ph.D. in Vertebrate Zoology from Texas A&M University and has held adjunct professorships at the University of New Orleans, Tulane University, and Louisiana State University. He is the past President of the Association of Nature Center Administrators and is a member/chair of several academic, business, and civic boards (such as the Louisiana Children’s Museum, New Orleans Botanical Gardens Foundation, and Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater New Orleans) and committees. He served on the Accreditation Commission of the American Association of Museums and as Chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The top two honors accorded nature center administrators have been received by Dr. Thomas: The Elsie Naumburg Award (1983, Natural Science for Youth Foundation) and the Professional Leadership Award (2001, the Association for Nature Center Administrators). He was also named Conservation Educator of the Year (1986, Louisiana Wildlife Federation), awarded the Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation Education (1994, The Garden Club of America), and named Diplomat of the Year (New Orleans Diplomacy Council, 2008).
Dr. Thomas’s activities at Loyola include an active teaching program in environmental communication and biology, many activities relating to coastal issues communication, working in the realm of environmental intervention where industry and communities collide, environmental communication programs in tropical areas (principally Belize, Trinidad, Guatemala, and the eastern Caribbean), nature-based tourism, and environmental education and landscaping.
He has published many papers in the fields of herpetology (reptiles and amphibians; specializing in the Neotropical snake fauna) and nature center administration. As mentioned, his most avid interests are in environmental communication, restoring America’s WETLAND (Louisiana’s coastal wetlands), tropical natural history/interpretation, and nature center-based environmental education. Along with his wife and other colleagues in the Department of Special Education and Habilitative Services at the University of New Orleans, Bob has contributed actively to the field of curriculum development for environmental education.
Bob fervently believes that environmental solutions will be the result of open and honest communication, coupled with trust and integrity, among stakeholders.