William Lovekamp is always prepared, whether it's for a natural disaster or an idea that changes a community.
Lovekamp, a professor in the sociology and anthropology department, specializes in the sociology of disaster, which has led him to work with the American Red Cross and the International Research Committee on Disasters.
As a disaster volunteer for the local Red Cross, Lovekamp is on call nights and weekends if an emergency were to happen. This group assists the local fire department by making sure they stay hydrated on the scenes of fires and disasters. The group also provides basic necessities and short term sheltering for those in need after a disaster.
In January Lovekamp worked in a shelter in Mattoon that housed hundreds of people from all across the country when the big snow storm hit and driving was impossible.
Lovekamp is also the secretary and treasurer for the International Research Committee on Disasters where he is in charge of all of the subscriptions for the committee's journal.
Lovekamp is also a Faculty Fellow and the EIU Big Brothers/Big Sisters advisor.
During a family vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Lovekamp took a special interest in Cades Cove, a piece of land in the park where an Appalachian mountain community once lived. Homesteads and cemeteries still remain which enticed Lovekamp to ask an important question: what would happen to this already diminished community if a natural disaster were to strike?
"I go to Cades Cove. I'm there on a family vacation and I wonder if there's something that I can do to help the community," Lovekamp said. "And it becomes research by asking a question and trying to find ways that I can help."
Lovekamp, along with three other Eastern professors, were able to collect photographs and precise GPS coordinates of all known stones and markers in the cemeteries at Cades Cove.
Teaching at a college level is rewarding not only because of the interaction with the students, but also because Lovekamp gets to bring in his research experience.
"It's fun for me in Research Methods to talk to students about how we find answers to questions because research sounds intimidating," Lovekamp said. "I show them examples from what I do that I can turn into research."
Within Eastern's sociology and anthropology department, the professors get to know the students and connect with them on a personal level. It's that connection that makes it all worth it, he said.
"It's the interaction with students that's so amazing," Lovekamp said. "We get to know you, you get to know us."
The sociology and anthropology department offers opportunities such as internships, independent studies and fieldwork to gain hands-on experience that will be valued in the workforce.
"We have many opportunities for students to be engaged," Lovekamp said. "We have so many opportunities for them to learn about different cultures and for them to give back to the community. There are so many ways for them to learn other than being in the classroom."