One of my favorite people to talk with about nature is Steven Harris. When I attended Clarion University as a student from 1997-2001, Steve was my sounding board for bad ideas related to student projects. His knowledge of the natural sciences especially in his area of expertise, Entomology, is impressive to say the least.
Many times, I would ask him a question about something random I was learning and he would begin with “I don’t know, I guess…” and by the end of the conversation I was given an education, or routed to an expert he knew that would have the answer I was looking for.
As an employee of Clarion University over the last ten years, Steve and I have bounced ideas off each other on numerous occasions.
Once he was aware that Athia and Maia were making a game about wildlife, he was not only on board with helping them research the odd invertebrates they would photograph and bring in, but he also purchased a few sets of the game and sent them off to science teachers he knew.
We have much respect and love for Dr. Steven Harris, and look forward to bending his ear in the future.
Here are Steve’s answers to our questions.
What is your full name and title?
Steven C. Harris, Interim Dean, College of Arts, Education, and Sciences at Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Where do you work and reside?
What is your educational background?
Master’s degree in Wildlife Biology, PhD in Entomology
What was your life like growing up?
Pretty normal, played sports, outdoor activities
Did you have a nickname? If so, how did it come about?
What are you currently reading? Why?
Mostly read old mystery novels, helps me fall asleep
What are you curious about or exploring in your field of expertise at the moment?
Have been working on caddisflies from Panama
What is your favorite Movie? Why?
Can’t think of any in particular, like old mystery movies
What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your profession?
Ability to work hard and concentrate on tasks at hand
What is your least favorite subject? Why?
Probably math, not very good at abstract thought
What advise you to offer to parents who want to help their children get involved with the natural world?
Just spend time with them
To what teams and/or clubs did you encourage students to join?
Clubs in their fields of study, or clubs that will expand their horizons
Is there a daily routine you enjoy?
Go to the gym, go to my lab whenever possible
How do you integrate technology in your profession?
I’m a taxonomist and have to draw different insects; the drawing now uses computer technology
How do you disconnect from technology?
I don’t think I’ve ever made the connection to technology
What advice would you offer nature-lovers who live in large cities?
Urban areas typically have natural areas to explore and most urban areas have state parks nearby
What advice would you offer nature-lovers who live in rural areas?
In rural areas you are often surrounded by natural areas, you just need to take advantage of the opportunities, which would also apply to urban areas
What advice would you give to adults who are interested in supporting their local wildlife ecosystems?
Generally natural areas are always looking for volunteers and they are also typically in need of financial support
Are there specific wildlife or science clubs you find interesting? Why?
At this stage in my career, I’m mainly involved in scientific societies, which have annual meetings and associated activities.
What could a visitor expect to see when they come to visit you at work?
They would see me staring through a microscope in a cluttered lab
What are your thoughts about our national park and preserve systems?
I think they are a great idea and would hope they are kept in as much a pristine nature as possible.
Is there anything else you want to share or say?
Take advantage of opportunities, anything is possible, don’t be discouraged.