I’ve enjoyed spending time in “nature” for as long as I can remember. I spent many summer days in my youth wandering around the woods near my family’s home in Wisconsin. In school, my favorite classes were math and science. Biology was a logical choice for a kid like me. I also remember reading “A Wrinkle in Time” in grade school. The protagonist’s parents were scientists, and I remember thinking that seemed like a very cool job.
Proudest Professional Accomplishment
Back when I was a post-doctoral fellow, I discovered a previously unknown enzyme that plays an important role in seed and pollen germination in flowering plants.
Generating New Knowledge
I think I have a very “laid-back,” conversational teaching style. I do lecture quite a bit, but always try to engage my students with questions and problems for them to solve. My main goal is to get students to ask questions about the living world around them. Most importantly, I want them to ask, “How do we know what we think we know?” Biology isn’t all about the pile of facts we’ve already accumulated, it’s about how we generate new knowledge and how new discoveries change the way we interpret what we supposedly already “know.”
I love working with students in the lab. I’d much rather play around in a lab than sit in on (or give) a lecture. Biology is such a hands-on discipline. Designing and carrying out experiments is just plain fun.
Bracy Hall is my favorite building. It’s a great science facility, of course, but it also has a very appealing aesthetic quality. It just doesn’t look like a typical science building.
The value of small classes can’t be overstated. Students at Mount can really get to know their professors. They are required to engage with their peers, both in and out of the classroom, in ways that are impossible at larger universities. In biology, we emphasize project-based lab experiences and longer-term experiments that many larger universities couldn’t manage for undergraduates.
Why Study Biology
Biology is such a broad discipline and there’s so much that we have yet to learn. I would encourage anyone who likes science and is curious about the living world (and who isn’t?) to consider biology as a major and as a career. There are so many things you can do with a biology major and I can almost guarantee that you’ll never be bored.
As cliché as it may sound, I’m a true believer in our mission statement, especially the part about preparing our students for “fulfilling lives.” There’s no doubt that a liberal education will better prepare you for your career and help make you a more responsible citizen. A good education is all about providing choices. An education grounded in the liberal arts is the best way to give yourself more choices, choices about how to interpret the world you live in, choices about how you will use you mind, and choices about how you will live your life.