Meet Doris Bull Kraus ‘72 (CCS Biology)

January 4, 2024

Doris delves into her CCS experience, the interdisciplinary career pathway it inspired, and her work in ecology and animal behavior

Doris Bull Kraus ‘72 (CCS Biology)
Doris Bull Kraus ‘72 (CCS Biology)

The student experiential learning at the College of Creative Studies (CCS), along with the encouragement for its students to explore courses outside of their majors, drew a young and passionate Doris Bull Kraus ‘72 (CCS Biology) to UCSB. Over the years, Doris has built a professional life at the intersection of biological research, communications, and education. From studying hormones and behavior in South American opossum to training the youth and the general public to communicate scientific knowledge, this member of the College’s alumni community exemplifies a lifelong commitment to bridging the realms of science, education, and community engagement. In a recent conversation, Doris discussed her time at CCS, the transformative experiences that shaped her career in ecology and animal behavior, and the important interrelationship between the arts and sciences. 

“Thank you so much for the opportunity to look back and see how valuable my life was at CCS and how it has made my life a much richer one.”

Doris Bull Kraus ‘72 (CCS Biology)

CCS: How did you find out about the College? 

Doris Bull Kraus (DBK): I had received an Honorable Mention in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search for behavioral research I had done at a National Science Foundation program at Western Michigan University. As a result, I received information from different colleges, including, CCS.

CCS: Why did you choose to come to CCS? 

DBK: loved the idea of the arts and sciences being joined together under the umbrella of creative studies, and I was excited about the idea of working in professors' laboratories and learning in classrooms with a small number of students. I also loved the idea of being on a university campus with access to a broad range of other classes and activities.

CCS: What was your favorite aspect or professor(s) or experience while at CCS?

DBK: I loved working and taking classes with Professors Adrian Wenner and Beatrice (Bea) Sweeney at CCS, as well as with Professor Preston Cloud in the Geology Department. In addition, I was very excited to watch Jacques D'Amboise and dancers from the NYC Ballet rehearse and perform while in residence at the College. 

CCS: If you attended graduate school, where and what did you study as a graduate student?  

DBK: I received a Masters in biology from the City University of New York (CUNY), taking classes in neurobiology, animal behavior, aquaculture, and animal physiology. I received my Ph.D. in zoology at Rutgers University where I took courses in cell biology, evolution, ecology, animal behavior, and physiology. My thesis focused on the burrows of fiddler crabs and their roles in reproduction, ecology, and behavior.

“It [CCS education] taught me discipline, creativity, and the joy of doing research both in the field and in the lab!”

Doris Bull Kraus ‘72 (CCS Biology)

CCS: Describe your career, profession, job. Does it relate to what you studied at CCS?

DBK: My career, profession, and jobs have all related to what I studied at CCS in that they focused on biology, primarily studies in ecology, and animal behavior. After I graduated from UCSB, I spent three years working in two different laboratories, one at the NYC Aquarium, assisting with studies in cement production in barnacles, and then assisted in raising the California sea hare (Aplysia californica) for studies in animal behavior and memory. After receiving my Ph.D., I worked in a laboratory studying hormones and behavior in a species of South American opossum.

I then switched my focus from research to science and medical writing, editing, consulting, and public relations, working in a variety of media, including radio, public television, newspapers, newsletters, and annual reports. My audiences were both popular and technical.

During the last few years before retirement, I taught biology, anatomy, and physiology in public, private, and charter schools, mostly at the high school level. Since retiring in 2015, I have been volunteering at Fairchild Tropical Gardens both as a judge in school projects related to botany and ecology, and in training high school students to educate the public about the Gardens. I also have an interest in nature photography, and participate in the activities of the local camera club.

As my husband and I live close to the Atlantic coast, Biscayne Bay, the Florida Keys, and the Everglades National Park, we often take day trips to these areas where we enjoy hiking and bird watching.

“My most memorable moments were spent outdoors, doing research, and exploring the various habitats, including the beach, the cliffs, the lagoons, and the mountains.”

Doris Bull Kraus ‘72 (CCS Biology)

CCS: How has CCS impacted your life?

DBK: It has made me more creative in my work life, made me more aware of how the sciences and arts can influence each other, and made me a much better critic of others' scientific research and publications.

CCS: What advice would you give to current and future CCS students?

DBK: I would tell them to study hard, but also to enjoy what they do and get involved in extracurricular activities, seeing productions on campus, and giving back to the community. As a student I had a lot of fun participating in the folk dancing club, going to concerts, and doing volunteer work with the local indigenous communities.  

Along with others, Doris fondly remembers former CCS Provost Adrian M. Wenner. Read more.