• Position: Assistant Professor
  • Phone: (616) 526-6662
  • Email: dsp5@calvin.edu
  • Department: Biology
  • Office: Devries Hall 207 | Map


In his spare time, Darren enjoys  spending time outdoors with his wife Sarah, son Elliot (3 years old), and daughter Grace (1 year old).  Darren appreciates hiking, backpacking, road and mountain biking, and bird watching.  An avid birder, Darren keeps a life list of birds that he’s seen, and in past years was a scuba instructor and a wilderness guide. He also completed a half ironman several years ago.



  • B.S. in Biology, Texas A & M University in Biology, 1998
  • M.S. in Applied Ecology, Eastern Kentuky University, 2005
  • Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, 2010                                            

Professional Experience

  • Assistant Professor,  Montreat College Montreat, North Carolina, 2010 – 2012
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta,  2006 – 2010
  • Avian Biologist, Colorado Division of Wildlife Fort Collins, Colorado,  2005 – 2006
  • High School Science Educato, Berea College Berea, Kentucky,  Summer 2005
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, Kentucky, 2003 – 2005
  • Environmental Science Educator, American Outdoor Schools Coarsegold, California, 2001 –  2003

Courses taught


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Academic Interests

"I am interested in how animals respond to novel environments – especially those altered by human development. My research focuses primarily on the vocal responses of songbirds to the increasing levels of anthropogenic (human caused) noise that overlaps their vocal signals. Since these overlapped signals are less detectable, I am investigating mechanisms that species employ to increase the effectiveness of their signals in areas of high noise. I am also investigating the potential that noise exacerbates the loss of some species and homogenation in developed landscapes.

As an educator, I strive for a relaxed, yet rigorous, approach to learning about the natural world. I promote applied learning through hands-on activities and example driven presentations. I am most invigorated when teaching students while immersing them in the ecosystems they are studying! Perhaps, that is because it is here that the beauty of God’s Creation is most evident to me. In my spare time I enjoy spending time outdoors with my wife Sarah, son Elliot, and daughter Grace. I do watch birds off the job too, recently adding the Atlantic puffin, roseate turn, and kirtland’s warbler to my life list! I also enjoy road and mountain biking, hiking, and backpacking. Past experiences include leading wilderness trips in the West and Midwest, teaching scuba diving in the Caribbean, and teaching environmental education along the West Coast."

Selected publications

Peer-reviewed publications

  • Proppe D.S., Avey M.T., Hoeschele M., Moscicki M.K., Farrell T., St. Clair C.C., & Sturdy C.S. 2012. Black-capped chickadees sing at higher pitches with elevated anthropogenic noise, but not with decreasing canopy cover. Journal of Avian Biology. In Press.
  • Proppe D.S., Sturdy C.S. & St. Clair C.C. 2011. Flexibility in animal signals facilitates adaptation to rapidly changing environments. PLoS ONE. 6(9): e25413.
  • Kociolek A., Clevenger A., St. Clair C.C., & Proppe D.S. 2011. Effects of the road transportation network on bird populations. Conservation Biology. 25(2): 241-249.
  • Proppe D.S., Bloomfield L.L., & Sturdy C.S. 2010. Acoustic transmission of the chick-a-dee call of the black capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus): forest structure and note function. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 88(8): 788-794.