Dr. Scott Herron

Scott Herron

Biology Education Program Coordinator

Office: ASC 2017
Phone: (231) 591-2087
E-mail Address: herrons@ferris.edu

Scott Herron holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology with specialization in ethnobotany, taxonomy, ecology, morphology, and cultural anthropology from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He teaches courses in botany, plant propagation, microbial ecology, integrated ecology and non-major's biology. His specific areas of interest include the traditional uses of plants by the Great Lakes American Indian communities, and wild rice research. Dr. Herron is an available resource to those American Indians and Latinos looking for a mentor or advisor in academic and cultural paths.

Abstract of Wild Rice Research

The Wild Rice and Ethnobiology Lab at Ferris State University is utilizing undergraduate researchers to help Dr. Scott Herron investigate the best practices for establishing a thriving wild rice culture and community in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. We have collaborated on the experiential learning model of wild rice camps in 2007 (White Earth, Minnesota), 2008 (Lac Vieux Desert, Michigan), and 2009 (Mecosta, Michigan) used to train students and interested participants (both tribal and non-tribal) in the production of tools and techniques used in wild rice harvesting and processing. The lab has used these camps to gather wild rice seed used in research conducted by the students, including water chemistry analysis, seed viability and germination, fungal smut pathogen lifecycles, and restoration potential of local seed sources. Without the rice camps teaching new generations how to hand-harvest wild rice with tools produced by their own hands, we would not only lose the ricing culture of the Great Lakes past, but we would lack the wild rice seed used by ecologists, natural resource managers, and citizens to reseed public and private waters across Michigan. This mutualistic relationship between the rice camps and the restoration research and application is demonstrated quantitatively and qualitatively on the poster presented here today.

Ongoing Research

During the 2009-2010 academic year, the wild rice lab researchers include: Brenna Chencinski (Allied Health Freshman), Josh Byers (Biology Sophmore), Nicole Patrosso (Allied Health Freshman), Michael Reynolds (Biology and Psychology Senior), Sarah Thompson (Biotechnology Junior), and Lauren Mitten (High School student Dual Enrolled at FSU), Andrea Lodholtz (Greenhouse Manager/Technican).  They are following up on the viability and germination studies of last year, investigating wild rice pathogen ( Claviceps zizaniae), and developing research methods to investigate seed size differences across the regional range of Zizania palustris (wild rice).

Native Wild Rice Coalition’s cultural and ecological restoration

During the 2008-2009 academic year, Dr. Herron conducted wild rice restoration research with undergraduate students Chris LaVelle (Pre-Pharmacy), Crystal Phillips (Biology), and Michael Reynolds (Psychology). They presented a poster with Andrea Lodholtz, Lauren Mitten and Scott Herron at the National Water Conference in St. Louis, MO in February 2009.

A Hands On Learning Approach-Wild Rice Conservation, Harvesting, Restoration, Processing, and Environmental Analyses Research at an Undergraduate Teaching University in Michigan


Undergraduate Teaching Universities rarely provide the hands-on research experience for students to conduct conservation and restoration ecology. This project utilizes local funding and Federal Work Study dollars to help the Wild Rice and Ethnobiology Lab at Ferris State University achieve one of the primary goals of the regional Native Wild Rice Coalition, the restoration of wild rice habitats in the lower peninsula of Michigan. Students have acquired knowledge of the ecological foundation of wild rice as the base of aquatic food webs. They have learned harvesting and processing techniques, and have developed field identification of wetland plants and animals. Students have also become aware of human impacts that threaten the sustainability of wild rice and have learned to employ restoration principles and methods. In addition, students have gained a better understanding of the ethical history of wild rice and how it correlates with the evolution of the Great Lakes Native American culture. Extensive environmental analysis of wild rice growth conditions are being investigated in our lab, including soil/sediment health, water chemistry, seed viability, as well as the effects of herbicides on different rice life stages. The resulting data will be used to develop further conservation techniques and discourage the use of pesticides, which greatly contribute to the decline of wild rice in our region.

Project Impact Statement

Ferris State University partnered with local stakeholders (Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, Houghton Lake Lake Association, Math-Science Training Center of Mecosta & Osceola County) and regional stakeholders (Michigan State University Extension, University of Wisconsin Extension, Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, and Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission). This coalition exposed the students to multicultural collaboration and the active extension programs and research, as well as the benefits of service learning. The integration of American Indian language, customs, resource management, and traditional ecological knowledge into undergraduate research and learning has had profound impacts on the student perceptions of science, diverse cultures, and alternative ways of knowing and living within America.


In March of 2009, Scott Herron and Andrea Lodholtz traveled to Lansing for the Michigan Wildflower Assosiation's Conference, where Scott presented an invited symposium presentation, Wild Rice Restoration and Preservation: Michigan's Aquatic Gardens.  He also hosted an information booth including containers of cold treated wild rice for the attendees to plant in their own aquatic sites, for resturation in action .

Also in March of 2009 Dr. Herron's undergraduate reasearch group consisting of Crystal Phillips, Michael Reynolds, Chris LaVelle, and Lauren Mittten gave an oral presentaion at Wayne State University to the Botany and Plant Ecology section of the Michigan Acadamy of Science.  The title was, "Wild Rice Viability and Germination Testing to Compare Southern and Northern Ecotypes of northern Wild Rice, Zizania aquatica var. angustifolia, for Restoration Potential in Michigan," by Crystal Phillips, Michael Reynolds, Chris LaVelle, Lauren Mitten, and Scott Herron.


Scott is Co-Chair of a Great Lakes regional Native Wild Rice Coalition that hosted a Wild Rice Conference August 8-11, 2006 at the Lac Vieux Desert Resort and Casino in Watersmeet, Michigan on the Upper Peninsula border of MI and Wisconsin. For the conference program, project partners and more information please follow this link.


Scott's Wild Rice Research with the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly is Featured in Several Stories


The Native Wild Rice Coalition is a multi-state partnership of diverse stakeholders interested in a future that includes sustainable wild rice communities throughout the Great Lakes region. Since the Wild Rice Conference, the Coalition formalized itself at a Strategic Planning meeting at the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wisconsin on March 6th, 2007.  Out of that meeting the Coalition's mission and goals for the next few years were developed. One major project since then was the development of traditional wild rice camps as a training model for teaching interested regional partners on all the aspects of wild rice culture. The wild rice camps were hosted by the Sah-Kay-Tay Indigenous Preservation Society at the Rediscovery Center on the White Earth Reservation near White Earth, Waubun, and Mahnomen, Minnesota. Scott attended this wild rice camp, and hopes to establish wild rice camps in Michigan in the future ricing seasons to come.

Scott's Outdoor Survival Adventure at FSU in November 2004


Scott's other Research with Undergraduates at FSU

Dr. Herron pursued grant funded research on wild rice through the Environmental Leadership Program ( www.elpnet.org), Department of Biology, and College of Arts and Science Student Research Grant. He conducted this research with FSU undergraduates including Melissa Holman (Communication Graduate), Bret Muter (Environmental Biology Graduate), Elizabeth Mansfield (Masters of Education-Biology Education),  Aaron Cronk (Environmental Biology Graduate), and Mai Yang (Biotechnology).

Dr. Herron also advised Rebecca Kerby, a 2005 Forensics Biology graduate, on a long-term research project on forensic palynology (pollen analysis) along with Dr. Phil Watson and Dr. Roger Mitchell.  This project resulted in a poster presented by Rebecca Kerby and Anita Guedea at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting in New Orleans in February 2005.  Dr. Herron was a secondary author on the paper, The Role of Forensic Insects in Deposition of Pollen at a Death Scene, which was published.

Employed at Ferris since Fall 2002