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Biology professor recipient of Schwartz Award at USD

VERMILLION, S.D. -- David Swanson, professor of biology, has been named the fourth recipient of the Truman and Beverly Schwartz Distinguished Faculty Award at the University of South Dakota.

Swanson is a highly-regarded teacher in the areas of environmental physiology, field ecology, histology, ornithology, and vertebrate anatomy and physiology. His research centers on vertebrate's adaptation to cold, especially the evolution of metabolic patterns and the mechanisms for seasonal phenotypic flexibility of metabolism in birds. Swanson has studied a variety of bird species, including birds that are found year round in South Dakota, such as the Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Sparrow, American Goldfinch, House Finch and the Northern Cardinal. Swanson has also studied birds that fly from Canada to spend the winter in South Dakota, including the Dark-eyed Junco and the American Tree Sparrow,

Additionally, he studies the physiology of freeze-tolerance and super-cooling in overwintering amphibians, and the use of woodland and wetland habitats by migrating and breeding birds in the northern prairie region. Swanson’s research group has produced seven published papers in the past year and he is currently a principal investigator on a $612,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study seasonal metabolic flexibility in birds and co-principal investigator on a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study ecological responses to the Missouri River’s 2011 flood. Swanson also plays a leadership role in the International Ornithological Congress and serves as an Associate Editor or manuscript reviewer for numerous professional journals. He received a Ph.D. in zoology from Oregon State University and his B.S. in biology from George Fox University. A photo of Swanson is available for download at

The Truman and Beverly Schwartz Distinguished Faculty Award is presented every third year to an outstanding tenured faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences who has demonstrated a truly exceptional level of creativity and productivity in scholarship, teaching and service and who shows great promise of continuing such achievement. Both Truman and Beverly Schwartz are alumni of USD. Truman became a Rhodes Scholar, earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from M.I.T., worked in industry, and then taught for many years at Macalester College, publishing extensively in the fields of physical chemistry and chemical education. Beverly was a middle-school teacher in St. Paul, Minn., where she taught students with learning disabilities.

Recipients of the Schwartz Distinguished Faculty Award must demonstrate broad contributions to his/her profession, and demonstrate a strong contribution to a challenging and stimulating educational atmosphere at the university. The award consists of an annual allotment of around $4,000 per year for three years to further the scholarship, teaching and service of the honoree.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News