As an entomologist, a college professor, a macro photographer and an authority on spiders, Dr. David McKinney is a man of many interests.
McKinney is currently an associate professor in the biology department here at BJU, and he teaches Essential Science. McKinney first became interested in the field of science when he was a young boy growing up in Missouri.
It it wasn’t until his later teen years that he felt for sure God was leading him to entomology, the study of insects. “I was like, well, how does a Christian become a scientist?” McKinney said. “Because I really didn’t know.”
Sometime later he stumbled across a web page about Creation and bugs. He emailed the man who posted the page, asking him if he was a Christian entomologist. The man said no, but that he knew someone who was.
McKinney was put in contact with Dr. Joseph Henson, a longtime, now retired, faculty member in the biology department.
Dr. Henson encouraged the aspiring entomologist to pursue science and come to Bob Jones University.
“So, God directed, and I ended up here,” McKinney said. Since then, McKinney has earned many degrees.
These include a B.S. in biology (2008), an M.S. in biblical counseling (2010) from BJU, an M.S. in entomology from the University of Nebraska (2011) and a Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Georgia in 2017.
McKinney said that he enjoys teaching the biology section of Essential Science. McKinney has taught this class that is required for more than half of the student population at BJU for over two years.
“We have some of the best students,” McKinney said. “They’re fun to interact with, and most of them work very hard.” He tries to make sure his students have a little fun and enjoy the course.
Since McKinney owns over 30 tarantulas, some of which he houses in his office, it is no surprise he has a passion for collecting and studying the arachnids.
In fact, he has documented two undescribed species of jumping spiders in South Carolina. “My side of that [was] more photographing and collecting the specimens and then sending them to the people who will make the determinations,” he said. “They have communicated with me that they are new to science, and they are working on documenting them.”
McKinney was able to personally give experts a special spider specimen he collected.
He said there is only one other specimen from that species, and it was found in New Jersey. “Since I found one in South Carolina, it changed their perspectives,” McKinney said. “Whether my name shows up or not remains to be seen.”
McKinney said he found the specimens because of his hobby in macrophotography (the art of taking close up pictures of small subjects, like insects).
“I spent a lot of time with small spiders and a camera,” he said.