More than meets the eye patch

Photo of Dr. Rick Sherwin by Brittany Marks

Photo of Dr. Rick Sherwin by Brittany Marks

At first glance, Dr. Sherwin might resemble the Christopher Newport University Captains’ own pirate with his eye patch, but have no fear; even though Dr. Sherwin may look intimidating on the outside, on the inside, he is a sweet and innocent professor dedicated to his research and teachings here at CNU.

Teaching at CNU for eight years now, Dr. Sherwin is accustomed to getting the strange looks due to his unique eye patch. “It is difficult to hide in a crowd of people. I always stand out,” said Sherwin.

With a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico and a Master’s degree from Brigham Young University, Dr. Sherwin focuses on the upper-level courses in Mammalogy, Ornithology, Biogeography and Applied Conversation Biology here at CNU. With a tough exterior, most outsiders would not know that Dr. Sherwin has a soft spot for little critters.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

So how did Dr. Sherwin obtain his eye patch?

A long time ago, in his teens, Dr. Sherwin was hit in the head with a brick.  “Lets just say I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” explained Sherwin.

Dr. Sherwin suffered from an unstable fracture in the skull, and since then, his right eye has slowly started to decay.

In contrast to the rumors that you might have heard, Dr. Sherwin does not have a glass eye. “I still have an eye,” he explained, “so basically the pupil remains open.”

Dr. Sherwin wears the eye patch in order to block the sunlight. “I cannot go…for a long time without my eye patch, or I will get a really bad headache,” he added.

Mood Patches

Dr. Sherwin has what you might call “mood patches”. He has a variety of patches which he uses based on his mood ranging from happy smiley patches, to Halloween, to kiss patches. He even has a hippie patch.
“Depending on my mood that day, [it] depends on what eye patch I will wear,” laughed Sherwin.

Sherwin has his own connection on the Internet that actually personalizes these various mood patches for him. “I wear the different eye patch patterns to make people feel more comfortable around me,” explained Sherwin.

Dedicated to his Research

“If I am not teaching,” said Sherwin, “I am very active with my research program.”

This program focuses on interests in ecological restoration of modern and historically mined lands, Applied Environmental Physiology and habitat use as a reflection of local ecological constraints.

Dr. Sherwin’s research has taken him everywhere from Alaska, Egypt, the Philippines, Peru, and even Mexico chasing little critters in holes and abandoned mines.  “Out of all the places that I have studied, the Philippines was probably the coolest,” stated Sherwin, “We were studying flying foxes, also known as old world fruit bats.”

Sherwin’s research has taken him all around the world and led him to see things that most people could not even dream of seeing. “I have seen things that people have never seen before. I got to see these bats in ways that have never been seen before,” said Sherwin.

His main passion besides teaching at CNU is chasing these little critters all around the world, and traveling to various abandoned mines to see them. “The really neat thing about these mines is that we are usually the first ones to go in them to explore them. That is what I really enjoy about my research; that you can see all the history down in the mines,” said Sherwin.

April Fools

Dr. Sherwin’s students absolutely adore him. On April Fool’s day his class of 100 all showed up wearing an eye patch.

From traveling all around the world, studying flying foxes, to wearing mood patches, Dr. Sherwin is more complex then he looks.

So, the next time you pass the intimidating Dr. Sherwin on campus, do not be afraid to talk to him about his research travels–that is, of course, if he is wearing his happy eye patch!

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