Renee Godard

Renee Godard

In my classes at Hollins, students spend time outside learning how to ask and answer questions about the natural world, a world that has unfortunately become less familiar to most undergraduates in the 21st century. From the deciduous forests we call home to the coral reefs of the Caribbean, my students explore basic ecological and behavioral questions, as well as contemporary environmental problems.

I have always felt that changing your perspective, from wandering through new ecosystems to hiking a familiar trail at night, allows you to ask more interesting questions and to find connections that are often hidden.

The research questions that my students and I explore are broad, ranging from: impacts of hurricanes on reef biodiversity, to microplastics in the environment, to bird responses to olfactory cues, to microbial contamination of soda machines.

Courses Taught

  • Ecology
  • Animal Behavior
  • Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Field Vertebrate Biology
  • The Caribbean Environment
  • Marine Ecology
  • Senior Seminar for Environmental Studies


  • Ph.D, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1994
  • B.S., Guilford College

Publications & Articles

  • Bestrom, Natasha and Renee Godard. 2019. Impacts of Hurricanes on a Rebounding Population of Elkhorn Coral, Acropora palmata, in St. John, US Virgin Islands. Caribbean Naturalist. No 66: 1-15
  • Peltier, Sarah K., C. Morgan Wilson, and Renee D. Godard. 2019. The dual role of wing-flashing in foraging and antipredator behavior in Northern Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos). Northeastern Naturalist 26(2):251-260
  • Godard, Renee D., Puja Sharma*, Carlie Jo Wagner*, Morgan Wilson, Amie Fleming-Haddock*, Rebecca Beach. (2013). Repeated detection of microbes in beverages dispensed from soda fountain machines and the effect of flushing on microbial density. International Journal of Food Microbiology 163: 218-222.
  • White, Amy S., Renee D. Godard, Carolyn Belling*, Victoria Kasza*, Rebecca Beach. 2010. Beverages obtained from soda fountain machines in the U.S. contain microorganisms, including coliform bacteria. International Journal of Food Microbiology 137: 61–66.
  • Godard, Renee D., C. Morgan Wilson, Jessica Frick*, Paul B. Siegel and Bonnie B. Bowers. 2007. The Effects of Exposure and Microbes on Hatchability of Eggs in Open-cup and Cavity Nests. Journal of Avian Biology 38: 709-716.
  • * Designates student coauthors


  • Janet W. Spear Professorship, 2017-2020
  • Senior Class Faculty Award, (1996, 2000, 2004, 2007)
  • Board Member, Blue Ridge Land Conservancy

Research Interests

  • Population patterns of Acropora palmata, an endangered species, in St. John, USVI
  • Impacts of hurricanes on reef biodiversity
  • Analysis of microplastics in aquatic environments
  • Responses of birds to olfactory cues