Dr. George Clokey teaches Biology and leads the very popular Yellowstone Travel Study course at UW-Whitewater.
What is your educational background?
I did my undergraduate at UW-Madison, and I have a degree in Geology and Geophysics. I also have a degree in Zoology. I then went to University of Pittsburgh where I got my PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology.
What are your research interests?
It turns out that I’m not doing anything in cell and molecular biology. The stuff that I’m interested in doing involves looking at how populations interact, but we do molecular biology to study that. One of the research projects that I am involved in looks at two species of mice and how the interact in the local environment. They’re very similar in their ecologic niche, and they overlap. I’m interested in how that works.
What courses do you teach?
Typically I teach Biology 120, which is Introductory Biology for non-major, Ecology and Society which is an Ecology course for Education students or Ecology majors, and then Yellowstone courses. I teach a winter course in Yellowstone National Park for two weeks and two summer courses in Yellowstone National Park. One is for non-majors and one is for majors. The non-majors course is wheelchair accessible.
How long have you been teaching?
I taught in my graduate school, so 1980. I’ve been teaching for 20, 30 years.
What inspired you to become a professor?
It was kind of a funny thing. With my undergraduate degree I thought I wanted to do research, so I got into research. And then as a research student I was a teaching assistant. It turned out I was pretty good at teaching. So therefore I started being offered teaching assistantships and graduate school. I won a teaching award. I said “well, maybe I don’t really want to do research, maybe I want to teach.” Then I came back to Wisconsin and this job opened up at Whitewater. That’s how I got into teaching.
What do you like most about teaching?
First of all, I really like interacting with the students. I like hearing about student success and being able to help get students jobs. One of the things I do here is help students get set up with internships or research positions. Helping the students find out what they want to do and find a career is what I like best.
What do you like most about UW-Whitewater?
Several things. The people here are really interested in helping the students. I think our Chancellor, former Dean, and current Dean really have the student’s very best interests in mind. I love working for these people.
What are some of your interests outside of teaching?
I do a lot of volunteer work, but a lot of is it connected with the students. For instance, we go out and clean up trails and parks and things like that. I’ve got a service learning course in the spring in which we go down to Milwaukee and clean up the beaches down there. I like doing outdoor things, but I always try to get students involved in the volunteer activities.
What’s your favorite movie?
It’s a Wonderful Life.
Who inspires you and why?
My students. I never cease to be amazed at their dedication at what they like to do. I am honored to serve them.
Dr. Clokey would also like to promote his travel study Yellowstone National Park open to ALL MAJORS. It is offered in July, August, and during the Winter Interim every year. If you are interested, please go to Whitewater home page, and type “Yellowstone” in the search box for more information!