Dr. Kuppinger was born in Syracuse, NY, but shortly after moved to Arlington, TX. While interning with a non-profit environmental group, he fell in love with the southern Appalachians and later moved to Chapel Hill to get his doctorate and be close to the Appalachians once again. Dr. Kuppinger chose Salem because he spent time during graduate years in a big state school and he decided he preferred a small liberal arts institution. Salem’s nearness to the southern Appalachians was, of course, an added bonus.
Dr. Kuppinger sees women’s colleges as special places that allow young women to develop in an environment that is specifically geared towards their needs. Particularly in the sciences, which have been dominated by men for so long, a women’s college can help students understand that gender does not place any restrictions on their ability.
Dr. Kuppinger’s research interests include the role of fire in the southern Appalachian forests and the invasion of exotic species (particularly plants). Students interested in entering environmental studies will find themselves in a field which will be increasingly important to society as population and environmental impact ever increases. As these impacts become increasingly apparent to the general populace, there will be a growing push to find and implement the solutions that the world is going to need. These changes in society will be incredible and individuals with a background in environmental studies will be at the heart of these changes.
His advice for students is to establish a good work ethic. Students in environmental studies must work hard and be willing to put in the time. He also advises students to make sure they really love their topic if they decide to go to graduate school. If students love what they do, graduate school will be great years; if they only “like” it, then it will seem to take forever.
In his spare time, Dr. Kuppinger likes to spend time gardening, cooking, hiking, and looking at plants (and he sometimes does more than one of these at a time!).