How long have you been teaching at Concordia? What do you love about your job? 

This is my fifth year at Concordia and I regularly teach two courses: Cell Biology and Anatomy & Physiology. I really enjoy teaching these courses because they are classes that are required for other majors, not just biology students. It is a nice way to interact with biology majors but also students outside of my department.

I have also taught Advanced Cell Biology, which is an upper-level biology course. This course allows me to get in-depth in the scientific literature with students at a level that is similar to what I experienced in graduate school.

Why are you passionate about biology?

I have always loved science, but I really became passionate about it when I took anatomy and neuroscience courses in high school and college. It was in those classes where I first realized that we don’t know everything about our own cells, organs, and bodies – which was really eye-opening. That lead me to neuroscience research in graduate school, which was when I realized that I can start to answer the unknown questions using scientific research. Ever since then I’ve wanted to teach those courses and help my students understand that there are still so many unanswered scientific questions. 

Why is the liberal arts education important as a science major?

I think now more than ever it is important to have an education that is holistic. Understanding scientific content is and has always been important, but a person can easily look up that information on their phone or computer. But I think what a liberal arts education provides are ways to answer complex questions – to have the skills to try to answer questions that don’t have an answer that can be looked up. I think that these skills are developed in science courses, as well as courses outside of the sciences – in inquiry, religion, and CREDO courses to name a few – and these transferable skills are what employers and graduate programs are looking for in college graduates.

What is your favorite part of teaching biology? 

I have two favorites. First, and its cliché, but I love when the students enjoy learning about biology. Students come the classes that I teach with very different experiences in their previous science courses and sometimes that gives them a negative attitude toward science, and I enjoy seeing those students leave the class with a positive attitude about science. 

Second, I love to get questions from students in my classes that can’t be answered. There are many unanswered questions in biology, and the textbooks usually don’t focus on the unknowns and when students ask those questions I can see that they are thinking at a level that is beyond the textbook. I also hope that these questions pique their interest in the topic the way that they sparked my interest when I was an undergraduate student.

How has the new Integrated Science Center enhanced your teaching experience? How has it benefited students?

First of all, it’s an understatement to say that we have benefited from the renovated building. Everything from the common areas to discussion spaces to classrooms and laboratories significantly improved in the ISC. But if I had to choose one place that it has impacted my teaching the most, I would say in the laboratory spaces – both the teaching and research labs. Teaching in a program like , where all of our courses have a laboratory component, it is critical to have the proper space and access to equipment in order to continue to give our students a modern laboratory experience. I think that students will greatly benefit because we will be able to provide them with a research-based education that is critical for future scientists.

What is your favorite memory thus far from teaching at Concordia? 

I have several favorite memories since I have been at Concordia. A few years ago my oldest son, Westin, was asked to be crown bearer. He was pretty young so he “fell” off of his chair and dropped the crown once or twice, but he loved the whole experience of being at and the homecoming parade. I have also been the faculty advisor for two Habitat for Humanity trips, and they have been very rewarding and fun. I highly recommend it to anyone who has not gone on a service trip while at Concordia. And I am advisor for Dance Marathon, which is a student organization that raises money for the Sanford Children’s Hospital, and each spring we have a Big Event, which is always a memorable, experience.

What advice would you give a student considering biology as a major?

When talking with students who are weighing their options on majors, I often start by asking about what they are most passionate about and/or interested in. I have found that students are not always sure what they want to have as a career, but they usually can talk about what they are passionate about. Because biology is a very broad scientific field, there are many “passions” that can be fulfilled in careers in biological sciences. The next step for the student is to then determine what jobs are available and if a biology major would help achieve that career. 

What is your favorite D.S. meal?

It’s not really a meal, but I love the raspberry tart dessert. We had it at lunch during the first day of new faculty orientation when I started at Concordia and I have been obsessed with it ever since. 

What do you like to do in your free time?

I spend most of my free time with my family. My wife and I have two boys, a 5- and 2-year-old, and we love sports so we will often be playing with our boys. I also love to golf during the few months of the year when we don’t have snow.

Published March 2018