Faculty Profile: Biology & Outdoor Conservation

Neil Bernstein, Biology, Outdoor Conservation

When Professor of Biology and Chair of the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences Dr. Neil Bernstein finished his doctoral work in 1982, he realized that Mount Mercy would be an excellent institution in which to teach, focus on his research, and make a difference in students’ lives.

Dr. Bernstein's long time interests include ornithology, conservation, environmental issues and animal behavior. He has studied Antarctic seabirds and, currently, box turtle ecology. Often, students work with Dr. Bernstein on his research.

“You may think that following turtles around with radios doesn’t give you the training for medical school, until you realize that you were trained to do research, make independent thoughts, independent conclusions and preserver through some difficult conditions to get the job done,” Dr. Bernstein said.

From 2005-2014, he mentored 12 student internships including placements with brain imaging medical psychologists, physical therapists and sport trainers, physicians, and environmental organizations. During that time, he presented 20 papers on his research at scientific meetings — most with students — and published eight papers in scientific journals. He also obtained over $140,000 in external grants, most to fund student research.

Dr. Bernstein’s credentials are plentiful. He served as president of the Iowa Academy of Science (IAS) and editor of The Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science. His awards include: Distinguished Iowa Science Teaching (IAS-1996), Jack-in-the Pulpit Award (Indian Creek Nature Center-1993), Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership (1991), Mount Mercy College Outstanding Service Award (2003), and the Goellner Award for service to the Cedar Rapids Audubon Society. He also served or has been an officer on a variety of community boards, and he chaired the Iowa State Preserves Advisory Board.

Along with his Mount Mercy University classes, Dr.  Bernstein has taught Field Ornithology, Ecology, Fish Ecology and Animal Behavior at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory since 1986.

He organized a symposium that coordinated and synthesized knowledge about the impact of introduced and invasive species on natural areas in Iowa. He was co-editor of The Proceedings of the 17th North American Prairie Conference. He also organized and cooperated with several researchers to investigate mitigated wetlands for the EPA and Iowa Department of Transportation.

In his free time, Dr. Bernstein enjoys bird watching, Tai Chi, Yoga, kayaking, canoeing and hiking.