Excerpts from some student evaluations of Biology 304, spring 1993
Eric Pianka is the most fascinating, knowledgable, and exciting instructor I have encountered. He presented the information from an extremely personal level, mainly because it is in fact his life. He is inspiring & remarkable. Dr. Pianka never failed to keep my attention nor the attention of the other students. Being able to hear about his experiences & then read about them was incredible & I wish more courses -- actually, professors -- were like this (him). He more than effectively communicated to & with the class -- once again, displaying his brilliance. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this course & I don't think I would have gotten this much out of it with another instructor.
No doubt the best class I have taken so far. I regret that it is now over. Although I am a person prone to missing class, I made a concerted effort to attend this one every day. I knew this would be a most interesting class the first day when Dr. Pianka downed homocentrism. I am in absolute agreement with that idea and it was fortunately a recurring theme throughout.
I think Dr. Pianka was an excellent professor -- he was truly excited to teach the information -- I learned more than I have in any other class -- not just facts but how to look at the world in a different way -- before this class I had doubted staying a biology major but after this class I have no doubt this is what I'm interested in.
I enjoyed this class very much. The lectures and reading were very interesting. I especially liked Professor Pianka's stories about trips he's taken and places he's visited. The math was a little overwhelming for me though.
Dr. Pianka really cares about the students and is very passionate about teaching. It is rare at UT to find an instructor who goes to such lengths and cares so much about truly educating students in his specialized field as well as permanently interesting them in the general area.
Dr. Pianka is passionate enough to preach his beliefs, without being offensive or ridiculing anyone in the class. Pianka is truly a professor who ignites the spark in students. I know that what he has given me in this course is just the beginning of what I will go find on my own.
He is definitely one of the best teachers I have ever had in my entire life.
This course was fascinating!
Dr. Pianka, My hope is that with further education that I will come to understand and appreciate nature, with all it's subtleties, to the same degree you do. For this understanding, this coming awareness, this desire to learn, and my heightened appreciation for nature I say . . . Thank You!
This is the closest thing this university has to a true religion course and Pianka is the perfect preacher. In other science courses we are taught to look at things specifically and therefore lose the big picture. In this class we study the big picture. "Why are we here?" That question is answered in evolution. Everyone should be required to take this class to "spread the word."
I loved this class & I love Pianka's ideas. I am interested in studying this type of material further. In addition, I am very interested in taking the upper division version of this class to learn it more in depth. I learned a lot and I hope one day I can apply this knowledge.
I think the best aspect of this course was the examples used to explain each idea. I know a lot of material is supposed to be covered in this course, but I think slowing down some, to help students really get a firm hand on what is being conveyed would be better. I enjoyed this class very much & really appreciated your teaching style. I really had my eyes opened to some very interesting info. I appreciate your efforts.
The instructors lectures were excellent. His enthusiasm for the subject enhanced the lecture. I am a physical anthropology student that needed background on ecological theory. I got more out of this class than I expected. Although I never went to his office hours, and regret that, Dr. Pianka seems very approachable -- type of professor a student likes to keep in touch with.
Pianka's enthusiasm and his humorous lizard anecdotes made lectures more interesting. Best aspects -- teacher very interested & extremely knowledgeable about the course. Outline/List at the beginning of class very helpful for organizing notes for test. All course content necessary & valuable as is.
I worship Dr. Pianka
The lectures were, for the most part, very interesting and informative. Dr. Pianka obviously knew his stuff and enjoyed sharing it with the class. He was often-times amusing (especially in his field research stories), which also helped to spice up the class. My only criticism is for the number of graphs Dr. Pianka made and the confusing population data.
I wish all of my classes were as interesting and meaningful as this one was. The enthusiasm of the instructor was great. Maybe just explain meanings of certain aspects or ideas a little more thoroughly.
When it comes to the science of ecology, he has no match. He is the living example of what a scientist should be. He lives and breathes research. And research afterall is what helps us understand ourselves and the world around us.
The word lists were helpful. The stories to illustrate points made were entertaining, and helped me get a grip on what the theory was. I was pretty satisfied with the course content, and the structure of the course. I really enjoyed this class. It helped me understand concepts I had heard of before but hadn't understood.
He has a wonderful interest in ecology. He is very dry but informative. The slide show was cool. Don't take half the semester to be funny. Be funny from the beginning of the class.
He knows more about lizards than any other human ever to walk the face of the Earth.