Russell Burke’s longstanding interest in reptiles was the major influence in his decision to pursue a career in biology. As a child, he collected local snakes in northern Ohio and kept them in captivity. He earned a B.S. in zoology from Ohio State University, where he fell in love with sea turtles. This led to graduate work on gopher tortoise conservation and an M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Florida. Burke earned a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Michigan; his work involved an array of Midwestern freshwater turtles. Burke has been teaching biology, ecology, evolution, conservation biology, and wildlife disease ecology at Hofstra University since 1996. His recent research has included investigations into the ecology of invasive lizards on Long Island, the conservation of diamondback terrapins in Jamaica Bay, Lyme disease host ecology, and the community ecology of the spread of coyotes.