|Karen Hales, Professor of Biology
February 12, 2013
Karen Hales, Professor of Biology
For more information on Professor Hales' academic achievements, visit this site.
Q: What aspect of teaching at Davidson do you most appreciate?
A: I love getting to know my students, witnessing their enthusiasm for what they learn in my class and lab, seeing their passion for various other pursuits on the stage or in athletic competitions, and helping them explore ideas for possible career paths.
Q: What are your current academic pursuit outside the classroom?
A: It's not really "outside" the classroom since my research and teaching are intermingled. My collaborative research with students focuses on determining specific functions for previously-uncharacterized genes. In particular, we examine genes whose role is to control the shaping and movement of mitochondria (powerhouses of the cell) within cells that have a particularly high energy need. We do our work in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies), and in many cases our work provides a solid foundation for studies of the human versions of the same genes.
Q: What is your favorite student event?
A: Whichever events showcase my current students' extracurricular interests. For example, recently I've known a lot of students who are brass musicians, so I've enjoyed hearing their recitals as well as their contributions to the orchestra, the jazz band, and smaller ensembles.
Q: What's your favorite extracurricular activity?
A: I picked up a mandolin for the first time in 2008, and since then playing mandolin family instruments has become a bit of an obsession. I play daily and perform locally on occasion. I also love playing the piano, which has been a lifetime interest, but that gets less attention now in my limited time.
Q: What courses have you created?
"Genetics," "Human Genetics Seminar," a first year writing course entitled "Clones, Clones, Clones," and independent research courses combining techniques of genetics and cell biology.
Q: What are your favorite non-academic books?
A: For nonfiction, works by Douglas Hofstadter, and for fiction, anything by David Mitchell.
Q: Do you have hidden talents?
A: As a young person I used to compete nationally in badminton (the very fast indoor variety). It's a family thing, as my parents initially met as kids when they were competing, and my brother was close to qualifying for the 2000 Olympics. I also enjoy orienteering and hiking. My hidden secret nerdy obsession is interactive fiction (all-text computer "games").