Interview with Dr. Matthews

Why does STEM intrigue you? 

I just always gravitated toward STEM. I did robotics in high school, but I always liked biology. 

Why did you choose your particular STEM field?

I just really like monkeys. I initially wanted to do human genetics, but I didn’t want to hang my dissertation on ethical issues [which a doctorate in anthropology would require], and ultimately chose to research tarsiers. 

What did you do before you came to BB&N? 

I was an adjunct professor in Biological Anthropology at Brooklyn College.

Why did you want to work at BB&N?

I wanted to reach students earlier. Higher education students often come to fulfill a science requirement, but I wanted to get students interested in science early in high school. 

How are your new BB&N classes going so far? 

My classes are going well, but there’s an adjustment because of the six-year jump from teaching college students to high schoolers. It’s been very interesting to see the different perspectives and interests across age groups.

What has been a favorite moment in your class? 

I really enjoyed when we debated whether things were alive or not–my students had really interesting answers and already know so much. 

Is there something you are looking forward to? 

Lunch, but you probably shouldn’t write that.

Why did you choose to teach? 

I taught robotics when I was in high school and I loved TA-ing in graduate school, so I made the commitment to learn how to teach.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. 

I danced with Bill Nye! It was the only time I was ever star-struck. I have strong opinions about evolutionary biology, especially since I abhor the phrase “survival of the fittest.” I was very excited to learn during my interview at BB&N that I could wear my shark shoes.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to cross-stitch. I’ve made a plague doctor, but nothing too nerdy yet.

What’s your favorite food?

Dumplings! I don’t think I’ve ever had a dumpling I didn’t like.