Q & A with Dr. Schlater

Allissah Jerome

The Cable sits down with Dr. Amber Schlater, Assistant Professor of Biology at The College of St. Scholastica.

What is your role here on campus?
So, I’m teaching all the phys labs and the lecture portion of Anatomy and Physiology now, although Dr. Eder was teaching that prior to me starting.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. … and I went to college there at the University of Pittsburgh. Then I went to grad school at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and I just finished a two year postdoc at McMaster University at Hamilton, Ontario. So I’ve kind of been all over the place, but I am excited to finally put some roots down. I like Duluth a lot, I feel like it’s a good match for myself and my family, I think it’s nice. It’s very outdoorsy and there are bears all the time in the news. Although I still haven’t seen one … There was a moose in my neighborhood once a month ago. Again, I did not see it. I saw the photographic evidence in the newspaper the next day.

Is this your first year at Scholastica?
Yeah, It is.

How’s that going so far?
I like it a lot. It’s been a smooth transition. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s good. It’s really rewarding and I’m enjoying it a lot. The students are amazing, my colleagues are great. I mean… Lindsey and Dr. Eder are both fabulous and those are the two people I probably work the most tightly with because of the course and they’re just phenomenal.

After traveling all over the place, what made you come to Duluth and settle here?
My husband has a lot of family in northern Minnesota, so I feel that has been attractive to us just to be somewhere there’s family. Duluth, specifically, I know it’s a really outdoorsy town and I know there’s a lot of things to offer as far a recreational activities outside. I feel like that’s a very good match for my family and I. Lots of good activities. And it seems like a big small town. It has the small town feel but it has most of the amenities of a bigger town. So, it’s a good compromise. I have to say, I don’t like the ticks though.

How many kids do you have your husband have?
Three. They are 7, 5 and 4 months.

What motivated you to pursue this career?
Oh, I don’t know. Well, I’ve always really liked biology and I’ve always liked the science … initially I was really interested in field biology and field research and I pursued a graduate degree. Out of necessity in my graduate program I had to teach, and I realized I really enjoyed teaching. So it was completely unplanned to end up teaching like this, but I just feel — this is so cheesy — teaching is so fun, but it’s been really great. I’ve always enjoyed biology. I stumbled into teaching and realized I loved it. It’s just very rewarding. I didn’t do much of it in my post doc and it became very clear then that I preferred teaching over research. Although, I do like research and I will be doing some of that here as well.

What is your favorite part of this job and why?
My favorite part would be interacting with students and just in the short time that I have been here, there have been a few students who I have noticed a very … I don’t know… I’ve noticed just a change in the way that they’re studying. I see improvement from the beginning of the semester and it’s just extremely rewarding. To see students really invest themselves and to benefit from it has been, by far, the best part of the job.

Do you have any words of wisdom you would like to share with students?
If you are a junior or senior and you realize that you don’t like what you have chosen, you should change that because you’re going to be stuck with that for the rest of your life. And I can’t imagine anything worse than being stuck in a career that you hated. Well, that’s not true, surely there are worse things. I mean, you have to find something that you thoroughly enjoy.

So is there anything else you would like to add?
I’ve just really enjoyed my time here at St. Scholastica. The short time that it’s been. It’s been really great. They keep talking about the ‘W’ curve, and they talk about it so much, and I’ve never heard of it before coming here. I would say Weekly I reflect and say “where am I on my W curve with this new job?” And I constantly feel like I’m on a peak, which is a good thing. I would like to think that doesn’t mean there is a valley. I feel like I’m always on the top of my ‘W’ curve.