Jason W Kelsey
Professor, Environmental Science
I am fortunate to teach varied courses to students from inside and outside the science division. For science majors, it’s environmental geology, toxicology, environmental chemistry and environmental microbiology. These provide great opportunities for my advanced students and me to learn about the natural world and examine the many connections among the living and nonliving entities on earth. For students from the College’s other divisions seeking to fulfill a general academic requirement, it’s fundamentals in geology or environmental science. I love these survey courses because I get to interact with a cross section of Muhlenberg’s vibrant population. Bringing passion and new perspectives to the classroom, these folks creatively connect their disciplines and interests to our studies of earth’s natural systems. Among the many multidisciplinary discussions we have, my favorites are those that involve the roles of science in film and other popular culture. How lucky am I to discuss questions about resource use, inequity and ecology in a movie like Snowpiercer with a film major! These courses also are very rewarding because I help nonscientists ponder the relevance of science to all our lives. It is my privilege to spend time learning, teaching, discovering, and sharing new ideas.
Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests
My formal science interests are in a field known as soil toxicology. Put succinctly, I study what happens to pollutants like pesticides and industrial chemicals that find their way into natural systems. During my 25+ years as a scientist, I have published over 20 articles in scholarly journals on factors and processes affecting biodegradation (essentially: bacteria eat and break down pollutants), bioaccumulation (essentially: movement of pollutants into organisms) and the clean up of toxic substances. I am proud to say that some of my best work was done in collaboration with talented and hard-working Muhlenberg undergraduates.
So what are my, for lack of a better word, informal interests? When I am not trying to grow plants or bacteria in my laboratory, I write and play music, walk/hike, read, cook and throw footballs around with my kids. Muhlenberg is a great fit for me because it provides an environment that facilitates and encourages explorations of broad and (seemingly) unrelated disciplines. Art? Music? Poetry? Microbiology? Soil? Poisons? Mineralogy? Weight training? I love our campus and its community because it embraces all those and more.