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Faculty spotlight: Dr. Griffith

By HANNAH KENNEDY
Staff Writer

Source: georgetowncollege.edu Dr. Griffith is in his eighth year of teaching biology here at Georgetown College. This February, he was the recipient of the Curry Award for Faculty Excellence.

Source: georgetowncollege.edu
Dr. Griffith is in his eighth year of teaching biology here at Georgetown College. This February, he was the recipient of the Curry Award for Faculty Excellence.

The biology department is very important here at Georgetown College. We have many undergraduate students that are persuing a major in biology. Dr. Griffith has been a member of the biology department of Georgetown College for eight years. Today I had the delightful chance to speak with Dr. Griffith and to get to know him a little better.

Q: Where did you attend undergraduate and graduate school?
A: I went to Carlton College for undergraduate school. It is a small liberal arts school in Minnesota. I received my Ph.D. at Indiana University.

Q: What caused you to journey to Georgetown College here in Kentucky?
A: I was interested in working in a university that is known more as an undergraduate institution than a graduate school. I also wanted to work somewhere that would allow me to continue research and to be familiar with undergraduate teaching. So I began looking for a job where I could teach and be a plant biologist. It turns out that there are not very many of those each year, but one of the places that had a job for a plant biologist in an undergraduate institution was Georgetown College. So here I am! I began working here in the fall of 2005.

Q: You have been known to frequently make silly biology jokes in the classroom. Do you have a favorite biology joke?
A: Any joke that can kind of get the class to at least groan because I at least know that they are on track with me. I don’t really think that I have a sense of humor. There were class clowns in high school and that was not me. Frighteningly enough, I usually come up with my jokes during the moment.

Q: As a plant biologist, do you have a favorite plant?
A: My confession is that although I really love plants, I absolutely stink at taking care of them! They say that a math major can’t balance a checkbook; well I am a plant biologist that can’t grow anything. I have the brownest thumb of anyone I have ever met! So my favorite plants are the ones that I don’t actually kill. I do much better with outside plants—they take care of themselves. I did my dissertation research on cockle-burrs, so I think that is one of my favorites.

Q: I know that most of the students are beyond ready for summer break to begin. Many already have it all planed out. How do you feel about summer break?
A: I am ready for a change of pace. I really like teaching, but after teaching four classes a semester for two semesters back to back, it is nice to be able to think about questions at a little bit of a different level. One of the things I will enjoy during the summer is being able to get back to some of my research. I am really excited about my research this summer. I began research with one of my fellow biology majors last summer, and this summer we are going to take it to the next level.This summer we will be looking at how much plants photosynthesize under different day lengths.

Q: What are your favorite events to attend on campus?
A: One of the things I do in the fall is teach a Science Careers Seminar class, and we bring in a variety of science speakers from other schools. My favorite outside speakers are the set of Georgetown college alums that we bring in. One of the really great things about being a professor is that you get to meet students that you have taught and that are now off in the world.

Q: Do you have a favorite story that you would like to share?
A: My first ever experience working with other people was interesting. It was my first job after I graduated from college. I worked for the Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin. It was a great job. I had my own cabin on the reserve. One of the job requirements that was not mentioned in large print was that I had to supervise other workers who were brought to the reserve periodically. Most of the groups were school groups and volunteers. But once I had to supervise a prison crew. It was the first day and I said, “Let’s go clear out some buck thorn!” I took a couple steps and no one followed me. I stood there thinking as my worst nightmare began to unfold. Finally one guy took a step forward and said, “So are there any bears out there in the woods?” and I realized that they were more afraid of the hypothetical bears than I was of them. So I figured that if I can lead a prison crew armed with various implements out into the backwoods of Wisconsin, then I could handle a classroom of college students.

Q: Any last words?
A: Stay Curious!