Visiting Scholar Program: Forest Rohwer’s Visit to Elmira College

Forest Rohwer photo

Forest Rohwer (ΦBK, San Diego State University) is a professor of biology at San Diego State University. Rohwer uses viromics to study ecosystems ranging from the human body to coral reefs, and he has shown that the most genomic diversity on the planet is viral. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, has won numerous national and international awards, and is listed by Thomson Reuters as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds. He has also published two books: Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas (Plaid Press, 2010) and Life in Our Phage World (Wholon, 2014). Rohwer is also one of ΦBK’s 2021-2022 Visiting Scholars.

The ΦBK Visiting Scholar Program is excited to return to in-person visits this year, after last year’s pivot to all virtual visits. In late September, the ΦBK chapter at Elmira College in Elmira, New York, hosted Rohwer in person for two days, where he participated in medical anthropology, microbiology, and immunology classes, spent some informal time with undergraduates discussing his research, and gave a public lecture called “Creating a Future for Coral Reefs (and Hopefully Everyone Else).” 

“Forest Rohwer’s visit was an especially fitting way to mark the second year of our new major in environmental science and new minors in sustainability and medical humanities,” said Charles E. Mitchell, professor of American studies and president of Elmira’s ΦBK chapter. “It was wonderful to get back in the saddle with the Visiting Scholar Program and to have this one be our first return to in-person programming on campus. The chapter has renewed visibility, and students got to meet and talk to a really smart, interesting person who does good work. How cool is that?” 

“My Elmira visit reminded me of how much I loved attending a liberal arts school—small classes, beautiful campus, interesting people.The students and professors had great questions and suggestions,” Rohwer said. “I also got to see Mark Twain’s gravesite, the Corning Glass museum, and Ithaca Falls. A fun and educational trip.” 

Rohwer’s other visits this year as a ΦBK Visiting Scholar include Creighton University, Goucher College, University of South Florida, Clark University, University of Denver, and Colgate University. 

Learn more about ΦBK’s Visiting Scholars at The 2022-2023 Visiting Scholars will be announced in February 2022.