Getting to know the people appearing on the EDGE of EXTINCTION Human cards.
If I remember correctly Donna wasn’t sure if she was interested when I initially asked, so I had to send in the big guns and asked Athia to hike a bit with her.
After a few miles of chatting, she was on board. We are glad to have her in the game and along the trail. Donna has a knowledge of the natural world I find refreshing. We talk about many of the species we find along the trail when hiking.
Below are a few questions we asked Donna along with her responses.
What is your full name and title? Donna Beer Stolz, Ph.D., Associate professor of Cell Biology, Associate Director of the Center for Biologic Imaging
Where do you work and reside? I work at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. I live in Glenshaw (Shaler), PA
What is your educational background? I have a BS in Biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology, both degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
What was your life like growing up? I grew up in rural north central Massachusetts, close to the New Hampshire border but about 1 hr away from Boston. Our property bordered on a dairy farm. My sister and I would spend a lot of time outdoors every season, playing outside in the streams, ponds, with the cows, my friends horses, playing hide and seek in the hayloft at the dairy farm, riding our bikes to our grandmother’s house, about 2 miles away. I loved to collect insects with my dad. I also liked to sew. In the winter we loved to ski, skate and go sledding and tobogganing.
Did you have a nickname? If so, how did it come about? My math teacher in middle school called me “Big D” since I never wrote out my first name on assignments. When I was a ski bum in Vermont all my friends called be DB. They still do.
What are you currently reading? Why? I’m re-reading the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. I’m re-reading because I was asked to give a keynote lecture for The Community College of Allegheny County, One College One Community Reads and that is the book they are all reading this year. I have curated a couple art shows that depicted the HeLa cells derived from Henrietta Lacks’ cancerous tumor using many different types of microscopy.
What are you curious about or exploring in your field of expertise at the moment? Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy
What is your favorite Movie? Why? I have 2: Tonari no totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) a Japanese animated film by Hayao Miyazaki. It reminds me when I was a kid and I spent so much time the woods. My other favorite movie is “To Kill a Mockingbird”.
What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your profession? Curiosity and Creativity
What is your least favorite subject? Why? Political Science…because it’s not science.
What advise you to offer to parents who want to help their children get involved with the natural world? Go outside with them. Do outside projects together. Go birdwatching, collect bugs, look for flowers and try and identify them. Get field guides and use them.
How do you disconnect from technology? Hiking/backpacking/knitting
What advice would you give to adults who are interested in supporting their local wildlife ecosystems? Get involved.
Are there specific wildlife or science clubs you find interesting? Why? The Audubon Society for the work they do with birds.
What could a visitor expect to see when they come to visit you at work? I will be helping (scientists, students) try and understand what they are seeing in their samples when they look under microscopes. I also help scientists understand how to set up an experiment using microscopes to answer specific questions.
What are your thoughts about our national park and preserve systems? We are very lucky to have open green protected areas that everyone can enjoy.
Is there anything else you want to share or say?
Donna Beer Stolz. Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Cell Biology
Associate Director, Center for Biologic Imaging
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15261