Tom Wood is an educator and scientist with deep connections to the natural world. He comes from a ranching family in Northern California, was introduced to Audubon by his grandfather as a young boy and was taught respect and traditional values for the natural world by simply being part of it. Yosemite, the Sierras, Monterey and the oak foothills adjacent to the Mendocino National Forest were his stomping grounds. The learning done there, in concert with Native American traditions had a profound influence on him. He believes, whether talking to a sculpin in a tidepool, an American dipper in a mountain stream or a tufted titmouse in a tulip poplar, there is always something more to learn.
Tom came east to study at the Smithsonian for his doctoral research and is now a tenured faculty member of Conservation Studies at George Mason University. He founded the Smithsonian Mason Semester program and has developed many learning environments involving the natural world. His research efforts range from reproductive physiology of rare species to terrestrial and coral reef ecology to how people learn. He is a Senior Associate of a national dissemination project to improve undergraduate education (project SENCER). He runs a bird banding station at the Clifton Institute field station and is a SCUBA instructor and the University Dive Safety Officer. He is a recipient of George Mason’s Teaching Excellence Award and was invited to walk with Elders many years ago.