Dr. Brian T. Hazlett - Biology Department | Briar Cliff University
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Brian T. Hazlett

Brian Hazlett

Professor of Biology; Director, Center for Prairie Studies

Department: Department of Biology
Phone: 712-279-5495
Email: Brian.Hazlett@briarcliff.edu
Office Location: Heelan Hall 268


  • BS, Biology, Houghton College
  • MS, Botany, Michigan State University
  • PhD, Botany, The University of Michigan
Brian Hazlett


I have taught at Briar Cliff for twenty-seven years. The subjects I most frequently teach are Ecology, Environmental Science, and Botany.  I also coordinate the Black Hills trip.  Among my highest joys is leading field trips.  Among the most notable destinations are Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, the Everglades, western Ireland, Costa Rica, and Galapagos.  

I earned my Ph.D. in Botany through the University of Michigan. My dissertation centered on the floras of four islands (South Manitou, North Manitou, South Fox, North Fox) in Lake Michigan and part of the mainland portion of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. For my Masters work, completed through Michigan State University, I surveyed the flora of the then proposed Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area along Lake Michigan. My undergraduate years were spent at Houghton College in rural western New York.

Among my goals is to become familiar with the biomes of North America, so during the summer I try to take extended camping trips to explore new areas. Hundreds of photographs taken on these trips have appeared in my class lectures. As a botanist, I believe it is essential to be familiar with the local flora.

Among my first research interests after coming to Briar Cliff was documenting the flora of the 150-acre Sioux City Prairie, a Nature Conservancy Preserve adjacent to campus. Another early projects was a roadside vegetation inventory of county roads here in Woodbury County. Subsequent research projects include examining the floras of Broken Kettle Grasslands, a Nature Conservancy tract in Plymouth County, and the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, a unit of South Dakota's State Park system. In November 1997, I was awarded a Missouri River Historical Development grant to facilitate research at the Adams Preserve and upgrade herbarium facilities there and at Briar Cliff. In 2000, I initiated a study of the flora of Stone State Park, funded by the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources. With the help of BCU student Jennie Vrbicky, I began a long-term examination of the vegetation of Broken Kettle Grasslands in 2008.  In 2018 I resurveyed those plots and added 10 more at the request of the Nature Conservancy.  Initial findings were presented at the 2019 North American Prairie Conference held in Houston, TX.  

In June 2004, I took a three-week botanical collecting trip with Hector Serna (BC '04) to the Rocky Mountains and lower Columbia Basin in search of plants collected during the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806). Later that summer (late July/early August), I spent a week wandering the northern Great Plains with the same goal. This project was funded by the Sioux City Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center as part of its Garden of Discovery. In 2006 I presented a paper on the garden's beginnings at the 20th North American Prairie Conference held in Kearney NE. The paper, Establishing the Garden of Discovery, was published in the conference Proceedings (2008) pp. 217-224.

In early September 2000, I led an all-day workshop, Discovering the Prairie in Your Own Backyard, for local elementary teachers. This experiential learning session, which included field trips to area prairies, was made possible by a grant awarded to Briar Cliff by IBP. Eighteen teachers from sixteen different schools attended. This workshop, first offered in 1997, was initially funded by the Andrea and Norman Waitt, Jr. Foundation. During July 2000, I presented a paper about this workshop at the 17th North American Prairie Conference. The paper (co-authored with local teacher Jo Yeager) appeared in the Conference Proceedings (2001) pp. 225-227.

Brian T. Hazlett, Briar Cliff