David Tonkyn, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences – January 2, 2022

January 28, 2022

David Tonkyn, 67, of Edisto Beach, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, died January 2, 2022.

Tonkyn retired from Clemson in 2017 after 31 years of service.

David Tonkyn

David Tonkyn

He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in biology with a concentration in ecology at Princeton University and pursued post-doctoral studies in field and community ecology at the University of Minnesota.

In 1986, Tonkyn joined the Clemson faculty and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in ecology, conservation and population biology. He developed and led two travel courses. The first, accompanied by former Clemson Director of International Services Louis Bregger and Anjana Gosain of Tiger Trust India, focused on tiger conservation. The second was a Rocky Mountain field ecology course.

He was the founding faculty adviser to both Clemson University Tigers for Tigers, the oldest student organization in the country dedicated to saving tigers, and the national T4T Coalition, with 14 member universities who share tiger mascots.

After Clemson, he accepted the positions of chairman and professor of biology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

He is survived by his wife, Cynthia Gansser Tonkyn; two sons, Eric (Tati) of Stamford, Connecticut, and Adam (Annie) of Waynesville, North Carolina; a grandson; a sister, Paula Festa (Joe); four brothers, Michael (Laurie), Russell (Jennifer), John (Sarah) and James.

A Celebration of Life is being planned at Clemson University and online to be announced at a future date.

The Tonkyn family asks that colleagues consider contributing to a Memorial Fellowship in Tonkyn’s honor to benefit students studying conservation and endangered species. Contributions can be made at:

Tonkyn’s full obituary is posted online.