Biology 301 Evaluations

Excerpts from some past student evaluations of Biology 301M

Pianka has to be the best professor I've ever had. He's informative and passionate. You can't ask for more!

Really great class. This is my last semester as an undergrad & until now, I've never had an instructor that I felt I'd remember forever. The tests were hard, but I'm really glad I took the course. Learned really valuable information. The world makes a lot more sense.

Pianka was very inspiring and taught me alot about the world and how badly we treat it. He was my favorite teacher I've had at UT. I loved this course and am grateful I got to take it.

Pianka showed incredible interest in this course he teaches. It is amazing.

Dr. Pianka offered such incredible insight into the world of ecology. I've never been so truly inspired in person, and I will use all of the knowledge I've learned in this class, for good use in my postgraduate career.

Excellent & engaging instructor/course

I probably learned more from the anecdotes in class than from the rest of it, but this has been the most educational biology course I have ever taken. I considered dropping out at first, because of the continuous intensity & solemnity of the lectures, but it has been rewarding & educational, though my grade may not reflect that as much as I would like.

I think if everyone in America had to take this course, it would be a better country. I have come to have no patience for those who remain uneducated on the most important issue(s) of our time.

The information you presented about our decaying world has really opened my eyes and made a huge impact on my life. I will be helping to open people's eyes, if they stay shut, I have my tarp!!

All doom and gloom aside, Pianka is smart, and he knows what he is talking about. Unfortunately, he tends to ramble.

Sometimes he goes on tangents but they were interesting and therefore forgiven.

Pianka is a pretty strange cat but he knows what he is doing. I wish there would have been a review sheet because we covered a lot of abstract topics.

I learned a lot of valuable information in this course and thoroughly enjoyed personal stories of Pianka's research experiences. I felt that I learned so much from the examples of various experiments he shared with us. Overall, I enjoyed the class!

Enjoyed the course

Pianka was very interested in the course material, but he seemed to skim over some topics.

This class let me view my life in a different way. I can't say the same thing about any other class I've taken. I also felt that Prof. Pianka's lectures connected with me on a personal level. I can't say the same thing about any other teacher I've had.

I enjoyed the class very much, it opened my eyes, and I really like that he is so concerned about the world. It made me want to be better.

Pianka, I somewhat enjoyed your rants at 8 o'clock in the morning, but I think you should take a different approach towards presenting the end of the world scenario. This course has depressed me a little, but it has been informative.

I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Prof. Pianka's views on the state of the earth and was very interested in his lizard-studying exploits. The course did require a very detail oriented eye/ear to sort through the lectures, but I enjoyed hearing Pianka speak and was impressed by his knowledge and passion for the subject. Overall, a good reason to get up at 7 am!

Interesting material. Very few assignments.

I didn't agree with all his philosophy, but I respected him. Passionate about material. Has a good heart. Not as one-sided as you might think

I feel the need to also follow a book, it would help when it comes to studying. The course overall was very informational.

The instructor is very passionate about his career and conveying his knowledge to the next generations. The book he wrote should be required for the course.

Eric Pianka is the most fascinating, knowledgable, and exciting instructor I have encountered. He presented the information from an extremely personal level, mainly because it is in fact his life. He is inspiring & remarkable. Dr. Pianka never failed to keep my attention nor the attention of the other students. Being able to hear about his experiences & then read about them was incredible & I wish more courses -- actually, professors -- were like this (him). He more than effectively communicated to & with the class -- once again, displaying his brilliance. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this course & I don't think I would have gotten this much out of it with another instructor.

No doubt the best class I have taken so far. I regret that it is now over. Although I am a person prone to missing class, I made a concerted effort to attend this one every day. I knew this would be a most interesting class the first day when Dr. Pianka downed homocentrism. I am in absolute agreement with that idea and it was fortunately a recurring theme throughout.

I think Dr. Pianka was an excellent professor -- he was truly excited to teach the information -- I learned more than I have in any other class -- not just facts but how to look at the world in a different way -- before this class I had doubted staying a biology major but after this class I have no doubt this is what I'm interested in.

I enjoyed this class very much. The lectures and reading were very interesting. I especially liked Professor Pianka's stories about trips he's taken and places he's visited. The math was a little overwhelming for me though.

Dr. Pianka really cares about the students and is very passionate about teaching. It is rare at UT to find an instructor who goes to such lengths and cares so much about truly educating students in his specialized field as well as permanently interesting them in the general area.

Dr. Pianka is passionate enough to preach his beliefs, without being offensive or ridiculing anyone in the class. Pianka is truly a professor who ignites the spark in students. I know that what he has given me in this course is just the beginning of what I will go find on my own.

He is definitely one of the best teachers I have ever had in my entire life.

This course was fascinating!

Dr. Pianka, My hope is that with further education that I will come to understand and appreciate nature, with all it's subtleties, to the same degree you do. For this understanding, this coming awareness, this desire to learn, and my heightened appreciation for nature I say . . . Thank You!

This is the closest thing this university has to a true religion course and Pianka is the perfect preacher. In other science courses we are taught to look at things specifically and therefore lose the big picture. In this class we study the big picture. "Why are we here?" That question is answered in evolution. Everyone should be required to take this class to "spread the word."

I loved this class & I love Pianka's ideas. I am interested in studying this type of material further. In addition, I am very interested in taking upper division courses on this material to learn it more in depth. I learned a lot and I hope one day I can apply this knowledge.

I think the best aspect of this course was the examples used to explain each idea. I know a lot of material is supposed to be covered in this course, but I think slowing down some, to help students really get a firm hand on what is being conveyed would be better. I enjoyed this class very much & really appreciated your teaching style. I really had my eyes opened to some very interesting info. I appreciate your efforts.

The instructor's lectures were excellent. His enthusiasm for the subject enhanced the lecture. I am a physical anthropology student that needed background on ecological theory. I got more out of this class than I expected. Although I never went to his office hours, and regret that, Dr. Pianka seems very approachable -- type of professor a student likes to keep in touch with.

Pianka's enthusiasm and his humorous lizard anecdotes made lectures more interesting. Best aspects -- teacher very interested & extremely knowledgeable about the course. Outline/List at the beginning of class very helpful for organizing notes for test. All course content necessary & valuable as is.

I worship Dr. Pianka

The lectures were, for the most part, very interesting and informative. Dr. Pianka obviously knew his stuff and enjoyed sharing it with the class. He was often-times amusing (especially in his field research stories), which also helped to spice up the class. My only criticism is for the number of graphs Dr. Pianka made and the confusing population data.

I wish all of my classes were as interesting and meaningful as this one was. The enthusiasm of the instructor was great. Maybe just explain meanings of certain aspects or ideas a little more thoroughly.

When it comes to the science of ecology, he has no match. He is the living example of what a scientist should be. He lives and breathes research. And research afterall is what helps us understand ourselves and the world around us.

The word lists were helpful. The stories to illustrate points made were entertaining, and helped me get a grip on what the theory was. I was pretty satisfied with the course content, and the structure of the course. I really enjoyed this class. It helped me understand concepts I had heard of before but hadn't understood.

He has a wonderful interest in ecology. He is very dry but informative. The slide show was cool. Don't take half the semester to be funny. Be funny from the beginning of the class.

He knows more about lizards than any other human ever to walk the face of the Earth.

I enjoyed Professor Pianka's stories, he managed to get a laugh

Dr. Pianka is an intelligent professor

I really liked Pianka but there were a lot of difficult-to-understand concepts that he glossed over that later had to be explained in detail in discussion section.

Dr. Pianka is extremely passionate about the subject matter, and what he does. He is genuinely interested in the students learning about what he is teaching us. He does have some radical opinions, but maybe he's right ... it doesn't affect our ability to learn the material.

I really enjoyed your class. I have learned so much from you. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and opinions with me.

Great class! Now I'm planning on going to Madagascar with the SIT study abroad program. To study Ecology and Conversation . . . I'm hoping to write my Independent Study Project on Forestry Management

It is not clear whether this review is for Prof. Pianka or Christina Shoemaker. However, I enjoyed the class and feel the subject of Anthropocentrism is an important one to understand. Pianka is extremely knowledgeable and all of his lectures fascinating.

A lot of people in this course had a negative reaction to the challenge that this prof put the class up to. I think for that reason there will probably be many bad reviews about him. The truth is, this is college, it's supposed to be a little more challenging then previous schooling was. I thoroughly enjoyed this class and am grateful for the time I was able to learn in it. Pianka knew the material thoroughly and in my opinion was a fantastic teacher. I will admit that this course was a tad more challenging than any of my others, but that is no excuse for a poor grade. I consider myself as a less than average student when it comes to science, and with a bit of studying I have made B's on both of my tests.

I liked a lot of the survival type skills and things that you taught us. I could see those coming in handy one day.

You and me, Pianka. Chess. Soon

I loved Pianka's class! He made me want to come to lecture each time

When I paid attention in this class, I enjoyed it

This course should not be a non-majors class! It's very difficult and rough. However, Eric is a cutey!

I enjoyed this class immensely and I believe you are one of my fav. professor ever. You know a lot about the topic and seem very very passionate about ecology and life. I also enjoy listening to your stories in class! I hope you continue on for a long time, saving the environment and good luck with all! Thanks for teaching us to be a better human!

Eric Pianka was easily my favorite professor this semester. His lectures were interesting for the most part, and I love his wit and anecdotes provided by years of experience. I'd recommend this course to anybody remotely interested in biology in general.

This course was hard, challenging, and frustrating but all in a good way. Learning the fundamentals of evolution and ecology taught me not only about biology but allowed me to contemplate other fields such as philosophy, art, sociology, and history in a new way. Pianka's lectures, though long and in depth, were interesting and well put together. The course was of great value to me. I learned a lot.

You know more about the Earth than any one I've ever met. I have so much respect for you and wish more people would listen to what you're trying to teach about the future.

I enjoyed this class very much. The experience of our professor and the important topics he went over were valuable to me.

I felt like this course was very valuable and Pianka instructed it well and was very knowledgeable in everything he taught.

At first I thought I would hate the class but have grown to appreciate the values you try to teach. I loved it!

It was easy to know that he really liked this subject.

Thoroughly enjoyed the course and professor. Very intelligent man!

Mr. Pianka's personality added flavor to the course.

Hard, yet fair and enlightening.

Enjoyed the course, definitely informative.

Tests are really hard. Pianka very interesting person. Clare is the best teaching assistant I've ever had.

Pianka has a lot of knowledge in this subject and I respect that.

He was funny and passionate.

Enjoyed hearing your perspective on things and also your personal experiences brought the class to life.

Pianka is incredibly passionate and knowledgable about his area of study. The ideas he presents in class are both interesting and of dire importance.

Great instructor -- Definitely a course valuable for life, but tests are too hard.

Course material was extremely interesting and well communicated.

Very interesting class, I really enjoyed the material, but I think the tests were not representative of the material learned. Also only having 3 grades makes it very difficult. But I learned a lot so you don't really need to change.

Pianka is very knowledgable

He knows what he's talking about and he's good at doing research,
but . . .

I loved Pianka's passion.

Surprisingly poor grasp of micro and macroeconomic theory considering his incredibly enlightened understanding of the universe and ecology.

Would love to have lunch with him, but would never take this class ever again.

Thank you for a great semester Dr. Pianka and I hope you have a great summer!

Though I will most likely get a C in this course, I enjoyed Pianka's lectures very much. He is an amazing instructor and shows a deep passion for what he knows and believes.

Eric has a very strong spirit and does all he can to wake students up the the huge problems we face as a planet today. He is not afraid to speak his mind, and is very reasonable and interesting to listen to. What I adored most about Pianka is he truly encouraged THINKING, and didn't teach straight out of the book like past science professors. He is a superb teacher and is very passionate about his job and the earth.

I just want to let you know that you have already re-wired my brain as you said you would in the first class. For the past half hour, instead of studying I've been trying to write an e-mail that expresses my gratitude as well as the impact your class has already made. Apparently I can't without sounding a little nuts, so I'll keep it simple and just say that you've made a difference and have helped me find my place on the pessimist/misanthrope spectrum.

Thanks, Just another monkey

Hopefully they'll pay you lots of money for this course evaluation. I just wanted to say thank you for this semester. It was a real privilege to be able to take a class from such an enlightened one as yourself. Although I may not do as well as I'd hoped in your class I have come away with a new perspective on life, one that is much appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to teach a class of non-majors. I'd vote for you if you ran for emperor. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

Thanks for teaching an amazing class. I loved the class, My girlfriend and I went camping, largely inspired by your class. Your class changed the way I saw the world, from my large scale worldview to small things, like using glass instead of plastic or moving bugs I find in my apartment outside instead of killing them. I'm by no means the strongest student in your class, but as a History major you were the first professor that I've ever had to get me genuinely interested in science. You get some knocks on pickaprof and before-class-mutterings, but I also think that there are many students like me who loved your class who might never think to tell you.

Thank you for not being another apathetic human. I've enjoyed listening to your stories.

The experience you have is amazing! All the real life examples you put into our ecology class is very interesting. Thank you.

I enjoyed your class very much Dr. Pianka, and without a doubt you've had an impact on my outlook on people, our society, and all life on planet Earth as a whole. You are hands down the best professor I've ever had, and I doubt you can be surpassed in my book. Keep on doing what you do and have a nice summer!

Incredible professor. Inspiring and unique. Went beyond the classroom into preparing us for real life. 10/10.

Pianka is amazing. He got this liberal arts major excited about science for the first time in his life. I hope Pianka lives to be 100 so he can keep teaching future generations.

Eric Pianka is a model educator. He encourages thought and this course should be mandatory for all students.

Dr. Pianka is by far the best Professor that I have ever had and I wish there were more like him. Unfortunately he is one of a kind. I appreciate and value his philosophical teachings, as he has forever changed my life!

I really enjoyed this class. You shed light on things that hadn't been brought to my attention before. I hope that from this class everyone became as aware of humans' impact on the world as I did.

To be completely honest, this is a difficult course. That said, it is also very intriguing. I found myself thinking about course subject matter outside the classroom and looking at the world differently. Dr. Pianka is a wonderful professor who, though hard, cares deeply about the subject and works to ensure that his students do also.

You are a very wise old man and obviously very passionate about your work. Thank you for taking time to teach us non-majors.

Loves his job, and it shows through his persistence of getting his opinions through.

For the first few months, I thought this course was a pain in the ass. I didn't understand where Pianka was coming from and he made me pretty angry at times. But I slowly started to realize the overarching points he was trying to make, and how important they are. You kind of come off as a jerk at first, but I appreciate and value what you are doing and what I have learned in the last few months of your ramblings. Thanks, Pianka.

Pianka is an invaluable part of the world of academia, and I strongly believe everyone could learn something useful from his course.

Very good course. I would only suggest spending a little more time verbally explaining some of your graphs/equations to non-math science majors. They are beneficial but aren't second nature to us.

It was great to see a professor so passionate about his subject, but the information was way too complicated for non-science majors.

Thank you both for the great class . . . definitely one of the very best at UT. I admire you both. Thank you for all the hard work!

Hard class, but interesting and you learn a lot.

I thought our teacher was fantasic.

Excellent Professor.

The coolest old man I have ever met.

Pianka is a great professor with a vast knowledge of ecology. Despite the difficulty of this class, I've learned a lot about the world.

I love Pianka! So nice to have an instructor who's brutally honest about how stupid people can be. This course has been one of my favorites so far at UT!

Interesting instructor, not for everyone, but I enjoyed hearing him speak. He is the real deal and even not being a science major, I had fun in his lectures.

I usually hate science, but I loved this course and Pianka's a badass.

Pianka is very knowledgable on life. His rantings actually brightened my days.

Dr. Pianka was a great professor. His lectures were a bit detail-oriented for a non-majors class, but overall I really appreciated his enthusiasm and the message of his lectures.

The lectures were always very interesting and educational.

The instructor is extremely knowledgable on his subject! It was a lot of information to process. But it was worthwhile. Many life lessons were taught.

You are a very interesting professor, as was our TA. I wish we had focused more on zoology, but everything was informative and eye opening.

I agree with many things you say and think you're very wise. Thank you for teaching this class!

I have to say you were amazing! We need more people like you on this world. People that care passionately about our Earth. Thank you so much for teaching the class so passionately.

You definitely were a hardass with the calculus equations in the lectures. But I very much enjoyed your class. I would like to say I have always seen myself as caring for this earth, but I love to see and meet people like you who are not afraid to show or say whatever to get our attention. Thank you! Thank you so much for your contribution to "our one and only spaceship."

As a past biology major, I'm obviously interested in the course material. Pianka was very passionate about all topics he taught which I liked. The exams were vague and hard, but I feel like I learned a LOT in his class.

Although most professors allow a student to come up with their own views, Pianka honestly tells you his. With passion and concern, his class is very worthwhile (if you make the first month). There are only exams and no buffers (gulp, participation, or discussion could), so be prepared to study.

Hardest tests b/c there is so much information on them, but I appreciate your passion for the world. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Pianka is a man of passion, he is a great man and I feel lucky to have been taught by him.

Excellent! Kept the material interesting. His lectures made an impact.

Pianka was great -- funny & very passionate on his subject!

Excellent course! Well taught! Very passionate about his work.

I think you are a wonderful guy; however, this class was way too hard and I didn't understand the material.

If humanity survives, you will have influenced many of its stewards. You might enjoy the music of ecologist Greg Graffin. You are one of the few. "We watch the days go by, compete, and then we die. So few ever ask why. But so many just abuse the design" -- Greg Graffin.

Passionate about BIOLOGY. He loves his craft. Give him another 5 years. Make it more interactive (videos and documentary)

One of the most brilliant professors I've ever had.

Dr. Pianka is very knowledgable and passionate about what he does. Readings were very long but he is an awesome professor

Loved Dr. Pianka. I would recommend this class to everybody

You were very interesting.

Dr. Pianka is very highly knowledgeable about the course, the material, and evolution. His passion was very evident.

Pianka was not the most engaging prof I've ever had but he's actually really funny and interesting if you listen. I learned a lot in this class and am glad that I took it. I honestly think this was the first bio class I've ever taken that's actually taught me something new. Great prof and class.

Pianka is entertaining as a person. Perhaps more class involvement could be beneficial, but overall this course and instructor were great.

If you didn't like this class, you just didn't put enough effort into it. Very hard, but I learned a lot. Thanks for waking me up, Dr. Pianka

HOLY SHIT PIANKA, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS PLANET?!? Words can't describe how badly I wanted to switch out of this course after the first week. But I stayed in it, and I was challenged and made uncomfortable with the reality of our world, and I think that was really good for me. I even enjoyed reading the texbook, like I didn't like reading it, but you have a clear and interesting writing voice that actually made it interesting. I learned a lot, and I was surprised by how much I learned. I have a lot of respect for you. It's clear you love your work and this planet. even if you're kinda an asshole about some things. Thank you.

Very dense course, needs something but not an awful class, Dr. Pianka is an interesting teacher.

Thank you very much! What I took away from this course was how HUGE the Haber-Bosch process was/is. It changed us forever.

Professor was great and never missed a day. Great Course!

He was very informed and interested about the course material. I think the students should go easier on him. He's just very opinionated which most people aren't used to.

Professor Pianka is very knowledgable about this material. I can honestly say I learned a lot but the course was difficult and hard to understand at times.

The instructor could improve his teaching by using more basic words and definitions for more complicated theories/processes.

Professor Pianka is knowledgable and loves what he teaches, but he rants so much.

Interesting person.

He was very passionate, but the lectures were not in line with the readings

The prof was cool but clueless. I think this BIO 301 class was too hard for no reason.

Good guy. You saved my life. I was standing on the edge but you called me back to life.

This man is a good dude, he is just a horrible profesor he genuinely cares for the material but just makes no coherent sense. I like him as a person but not as an instructor.

Difficult but impactful class

Dr Pianka is very intelligent and well-versed in the subject matter and has numerous stories and bits of trivia. Would be very interesting if this class were more accomodating and less intensively focused on Pianka's own often rambling and dense writings. One of the most difficult aspects to deal with is that all of the information in the course is based on material writtten by Pianka over the course of his extensive research, thus making his book one of the only sources of study material for assignmanship. Likewise the tests became unmanageable due to the plethora of information much of which was not adequately explained in lecture. Nonetheless I'm glad I was able to experience and survive the terrorist lizard professor.

I found your class very thoroughly enjoyable. It made me consider the way societies around the world use their resources, and to a lesser extent the mortality of all life on this planet and my own finite existence as a human being, in ways I've never really been brought to face in a classroom setting. I heard you may be on your final years of teaching, and if that's the case, I feel very fortunate to have caught the tail end of such an illustrious career. There is no Plan(et) B, but I hope to have a future in politics, and though I'm well aware of what you think of politicians in general, I sincerely hope to use any power I come in to to make the human race's Plan(et) A a little better.

I loved this class. The stories were interesting and I was still able to learn the info I needed. He obviously cares about the subject (and finals)

A project would have been very fun to do! Or a research paper! Class was very interesting though sometimes it was a bit rushed. Some more time preparing for lectures may help. Thank you for everything!!

I learned a lot of really cool stuff in this class. Thank you!

Professor Pianka was extremely knowledgable. I believe I learned quite a bit in this class and think the way it was organized helped with my learning.

Lad, taught me a lot and makes me want to be a more responsible human

One of the most interesting professors I have ever taken a class with. Hard class but it was worth it.

Sometimes the lectures are a little slow or off track but the content itself is fascinating.

For negative reviews from dissatisfied, usually poorer, students who just didn't 'get it' (I am saddened by this and feel sorry for them), see the "Pick-a-Prof" web site.

To go to Pianka Lab Homepage

Last updated 7 June 2017 by Eric R. Pianka