Journal Honors Editor for Service, Contributions to Profession
March 6, 2000
professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and noted entomologist was honored recently with a special issue of the scientific journal he edited for a quarter of a century.
The November 1999 issue of Annals of the Entomological Society of America was dedicated to Carl Schaefer, a faculty member in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, who was co-editor of the journal from 1973 to 1998 - one of the longest tenures of any editor of a scientific publication.
Annals, published six times a year, is one of the oldest and most important journals of entomology in the U.S. and the world. During his 25 years as editor, Schaefer worked with a series of co-editors and, at times, was sole editor of the journal.
Schaefer was invited by the editorial board of Annals to became co-editor after members of the Entomological Society, himself included, began complaining about the poor quality of the papers being accepted and the writing. He established more rigorous standards for acceptance and more careful editing of accepted manuscripts; the rejection rate went up.
Schaefer found that he liked editorial work, despite the hours of work it added to his teaching duties and his own research. The most common problems of the manuscripts submitted, he says, were "bad grammar and an interfering prose style" that got in the way of clear communication of an author's ideas.
Although the subject matter of the journal is serious scholarly research, being editor has not lacked humorous moments. Once, when a manuscript was sent in error to an inmate at Sing Sing Prison - the New York state prison at Ossining - the recipient demanded a $50 ransom to return it. "He didn't know we had other copies," Schaefer laughs.
By 1998, however, Schaefer felt the time had come to step down from being editor. "I felt I was reading the same paper over and over. I wasn't enjoying it as much and probably wasn't being as useful to authors or readers."
Schaefer remains active in the 4,000-member Entomological Society, in which he has held various offices. He is helping organize this year's meetings of the quadrennial International Congress of Entomology, to take place in the summer in Iguassu Falls, Brazil.
A Tribute from Colleagues
For the issue, Miller solicited papers from top specialists around the world in each area of entomology. Each has praise for Schaefer.
S.B. Vinson, of Texas A&M University, writes, "Through his leadership, the journal has gained international stature and has continued to be an open forum that not only includes research articles ... but also articles concerned with new ideas and reinterpretation of available data."
T.R. New of La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia, acknowledges the breadth of Schaefer's interests: "Carl Schaefer told me of his interest in the insects of Emily Dickinson's poetry, and his enthusiasm served to introduce me to her work."
Looking back on his years as an editor, Schaefer is proud of his accomplishments. "I took a journal that had a distinguished history and which had begun to go downhill, and I was able to revitalize it," he says. He adds that the work has provided "a number of kinds of enjoyment. I've read an awful lot of stuff that I wouldn't have read otherwise. I've been forced to learn a great deal (about other areas of entomology)."
Schaefer's own specialty is Heteroptera - stink bugs, squash bugs, chinch bugs, and bed bugs, among others. He says his enthusiasm for and fascination with insects began when he was a small boy - "I always knew I would be an entomologist" - and continues unabated.
He is a noted researcher. The author or co-author of 178 research works, he also is completing work on his latest book, Heteroptera of Economic Importance, to be published by CRC Press in August.
Service to the University
Department head Gregory Anderson says Schaefer "has done a remarkable job of combining research, teaching, and service to the profession. The editorship was a huge job and he willingly used portions of his own research space to make a place where he could work on the journal."
In 1998-99, Schaefer was president of the American Association of University Professors, UConn chapter, and he is still a member of its executive board. As president, he revived the
organization's Committee W, which deals with women's issues. During his presidency he also testified before the legislature at budget hearings and helped refute claims by the governor's office that faculty were not teaching enough classes.
Ed Marth, Executive Director of the AAUP, praises Schaefer's work on various negotiating teams: "He is dedicated to the University and to bettering opportunities for colleagues, both tenured and untenured." Marth adds that working with him is enjoyable: "Everyone who knows Carl knows that he is a lot of fun."
Schaefer is serving his first term on the University Senate this year and in November 1999 was elected to the Mansfield Town Council, on which he serves as chair of the finance committee.