Robert Turnbull serves as an instructor of biological sciences within the College of Science and Technology on The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach. He can be found working with students and providing hands-on experiences in the fields of zoology, animal behavior, ecology and anatomy and physiology. He took a few moments recently to reflect on his current responsibilities and outside interests in a question-and-answer format.
Q: What is your hometown and educational background?
A: I was born in Mountain Brook (Birmingham), Ala., and graduated from Mountain Brook High School. From there, I received a B.S. in zoology and M.S. in animal behavior from Auburn University. I also recently became certified as a master naturalist.
Q: How long have you worked at Southern Miss, and what did you do before coming to work at the University?
A: I have been with USM for 11 years. I started in 2005 right after Katrina. For 13 or so years, before coming to USM, I was with Regions bank. I did everything from being a teller to branch manager to commercial lender. My last position with Regions was internal control officer for south Louisiana.
Q: What area of biology do you study and what influenced you to study it?
A: My passion is animal behavior. I have always liked watching animals and trying to figure out “why is it doing that.”
Q: What are your proudest accomplishments as a biology instructor?
A: My proudest accomplishments are when students tell me how much they enjoyed my classes and that they “really learned a lot.”
Q: We hear you like to document animals and insects. What has been your favorite to video and why?
A: I have so many videos and photographs of animals that I don’t really have a favorite. It is always exciting whenever I can get a video of an animal that is doing something unusual or something I have never seen before or get a shot of an animal I have never seen before. You can check out my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCox_VEXfsmo20nOPr0LhPtA to view some of the videos I have taken.
Q: How do you feel about your video on termites being featured in the October Films’ Outrageous Acts of Science Show?
A: It’s really cool. I’m looking forward to it airing on the Science Channel late summer 2016. Now I can tell people I am a “professional” videographer.
Q: If you weren’t employed in your current job, what else might you be doing and why?
A: I play numerous instruments, such as guitar, steel guitar, mandolin and banjo, and I guess I always fantasized about being a professional musician (rock star).
Q: What do you like to do during your spare time when you’re not working?
A: Besides photography and making videos, I also enjoy playing music, gardening, fishing, bike riding and playing golf.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of working in a university environment?
A: I really love and admire the people I work with. The biology faculty on the coast are a great bunch of people, and we make a great team.
Q: What little known fact would people find surprising about you?
A: As previously mentioned, between jobs in biology (teaching/wildlife research), I was a banker with Regions bank, and at one time, I even had a license to sell life and health insurance.
Q: What’s the best advice you ever received and from whom?
A: My dad always told me “the world does not owe you a living,” which taught me to depend on myself, and if I wanted something, I had to “go out and get it.”
Q: What advice would you give to others?
A: The same advice my dad gave me.
Q: If you could meet anyone from the past or present, who would it be and why?
A: I would love to meet the first Turnbull, a man named William of the Roule River valley in Scotland. He was given the name Turn-e-bull when he saved the life of Robert the Bruce, the King of Scotland, from a charging bull.