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Faculty Friday Feature

Drew Steen

Welcome to our biweekly faculty Friday feature where we interview an EPS faculty member to learn more about their research and interests. This week we talk to Dr. Drew Steen, an Assistant Professor in EPS.

What made you decide to pursue a career in Earth Sciences?
I was a chemistry major in college. I loved the subject, but no one in the chemistry department at my university seemed terribly happy. The Geological Sciences department was downstairs from Chemistry, and everyone down there seemed like they were having a great time. I decided then that I wanted to do work that combines chemistry and Earth Science.

How would you describe your research in 3 sentences or less?
I study how stuff rots in water, because that influences how much oxygen we have in the atmosphere. That involves looking at the chemicals that rotting material is made out of, the microorganisms that are responsible for the rotting, and the geochemical effects of rotting.

What is your favourite part about teaching?
When things are going really well, my classes start learning as a group rather than individuals. People bounce ideas off each other, and I end up as more of a class coordinator than a teacher. That is a really great feeling.

Also, teaching is my only chance to do stand-up comedy in front of a captive audience, so that’s nice.

What advice would you give to your college aged self?
“Sit up straight and throw your shoulders back when you walk. Your back will thank you when you’re old, plus you’ll look better.”

If you were not in research/academics what would you do instead?
I almost went to law school. There have to be thousands of lawyers who daydream about the ocean; I’m an oceanographer who daydreams about the law.

What is a fun piece of trivia that most people don't know about you?
Between college and grad school, I worked as a residential mover for a year. Is that fun? Honestly, I am not that much fun.

What are some of your hobbies/interests?
I like to go run, ride various kinds of bicycle, and go to the gym when I get the chance. I’ve also been photography lately, both film and digital. I’ve got a lot to learn yet, but I’ve taken a few photos I like – here are probably my two favorite so far:

Steen Photography
Steen Photography


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