Faculty Researcher Spotlight: Nick Klein

Posted on: October 14, 2020   |   Category: Participant Spotlights

Dr. Klein is an instructor of environmental science at Sinte Gleska University (SGU) in Mission, South Dakota, as well as advisor for the SGU chapter of AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society).

Having grown up on a cattle ranch on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, Dr. Nicholas Klein developed a deep appreciation for the protection of tribal lands, food independence within the reservation and the environment. Preservation of traditional Lakota medicinal and food plants, water quality and bison ecology/ management are areas of particular interest to him.

Klein studied Biology at Augustana University before earning a Ph.D. in Ocean Science at the University of Southern California. After teaching in Los Angeles for a couple of years, he came home to South Dakota to teach at Sinte Gleska University (SGU) in Mission.

Although Klein started out as a pre-med student, his high school and college teachers and professors encouraged him to continue pursuing his passion for field research.

“I really enjoy field science and working outdoors. I also like the interdisciplinary nature of our work, which allows us to work in ecology, chemistry, microbiology and traditional Lakota knowledge at once.”

Dr. Nick Klein, Sinte Gleska University

By engaging SGU students in summer research internships supported by SD EPSCoR, Klein fosters communication skills, critical thinking, experimental design and presentation of research findings. “On a personal level, EPSCoR allows me to network and communicate with educators and researchers at every institution in South Dakota. This helps me collaborate with other programs to improve the experience for students here at SGU.”

Dr. Klein shares his appreciation for well-being of reservation lands with the tribe and local residents. “Our research will strengthen the growing food sovereignty/ food independence work here on the reservation and helps us protect and preserve tribal lands, particularly in the face of global warming.”

When he is not teaching or in the field with his students, Klein enjoys getting his exercise by running or hiking. He also expresses his creative side through playing guitar and painting or simply relaxing with a good book.