Dr. Rick Hammer


Dr. Rick Hammer, a plant conservation biologist and ecologist, teaches undergraduate courses in general botany, general ecology, field ecology of Costa Rica, field ecology of Big Thicket, and environmental ethics. He is a member of the Graduate Faculty and has taught in the Environmental Management Graduate Program. Hammer is Director of HSU TIES - Texas Institute for Environmental Sustainability and is also a faculty member of the HSU Green Committee. He serves as a HSU Faculty representative to the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, a Christian-based biological field research station located in Michigan.

Hammer enjoys working with students outside of the classroom and is the faculty advisor for the Hardin-Simmons chapter of Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honor Society. He is the faculty advisor for the Environmental Service Club, which was formed in 2013 and has sponsored and participated in clean up projects and environmental awareness outreach activities.

His research training is in the taxonomy, molecular systematics, conservation, and evolution of plants. His research focuses on the conservation of rare and endangered plant species, and he is currently conducting field research on a rare plant currently known from only three counties in Texas. More info on Dr. Hammer's research can be found on his lab research page.

While very much motivated by and interested in research, Hammer is fully committed to teaching and educating students and he sees this as his primary responsibility at Hardin-Simmons. Hammer takes HSU's guiding motto, An Education Enlightened by Faith, to heart and seeks to integrate rigorous teaching of mainstream scientific theories and knowledge in the biological sciences within the context of a faith-based perspective. He firmly believes that science and religion are not in opposition to each other, but instead are complementary. In his teaching, Hammer seeks to explore such areas as environmental stewardship and ethics, global climate change and other areas from both a scientific and faith-based perspective.

Hammer is the member of several professional academic and research organizations including the Ecological Society of America (ESA). He is a member of ESA's Environmental Justice Section and is an active participant in the Section's efforts to launch a Scientists' Speakers Bureau for Outreach to Faith Communities.

Outside of academia he has worked as an information technology consultant for Lockheed Martin in the F-16 Fighting Falcon program and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.

Hammer is active in his church, First Baptist Church Abilene, and has been an adult leader for Royal Ambassadors since 2010. He is a Cub Scout Webelos Den Leader,will become Cubmaster of Abilene Pack 271 in February 2014, and serves as the Outdoor Ethics Advocate for the 17-county Abilene area Texas Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is a master educator with the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics program.


He enjoys Dutch oven cooking, hiking, reading, coaching Little League baseball, amateur astronomy (looking at celestial objects that are thousands or millions of light years away is really awesome!), and spending time with his wife Tiffany (Abilene Independent School District Elementary School Teacher of the Year for 2013!), nine-year-old son Nathan, and Ruby, their family beagle.

Degrees Earned

  • Bachelor of Business Administration, Accounting and Information Systems, University of Texas, Permian Basin, 1983
  • Master of Science, Forest Science, Texas A&M University, 1993
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Botany, Interdisciplinary Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Texas A&M University, 2010
  • A Princeton Review Best Western College  
  • Council for Christian Colleges & Universities  
  • Center for Student Opportunity: Promoting a College-Bound Culture  
  • US News Best Colleges  
  • The Chronicle on Higher Education, Great Colleges to Work For: 2014  
  • Military Friendly  
  • Colleges of Distinction  
  • University and College Accountability Network