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Know Your Pelicans

Meet Erin Schmitz

Independent Science Research Program Coordinator

Know Your Pelicans

What do you teach? What is one of your favorite parts of the curriculum? 

I am the Independent Science Research Program Coordinator.  The Independent Science Research Program is my favorite thing at Packer. I love seeing students go from having an interest in science to becoming so confident and knowledge about their research topic. They develop impressive lab skills, learn to clearly communicate with others about their work and collaborate with a variety of people (other research students, graduate students in their labs, adults in the scientific community, etc.)

Tell us about a specific time you found your job especially rewarding.

The tenth grade year of science research can be particularly challenging. Students enter labs during the summer after tenth grade with pretty much zero lab skills and very minimal content knowledge in the area of their research. I love the first set of presentations from the juniors after their first summer in the lab. They go from knowing so very little about their research field at the end of 10th grade to becoming confident, knowledgeable researchers. I love this transformation during that first lab summer where they become so independent and self-assured. Even the students that struggle the most in tenth grade shine after their first lab experience.  

What is something that most Packer people wouldn't know about you?

I have a passion for the arts.  I’m a big musical theater fan, I play the French Horn and I tap dance (though neither as well as I once did, but it doesn’t keep me from enjoying them).  I love sharing this artistic side of myself with my students.  I wish I had more time to participate in music and dance and go to the theater.    

What is your favorite space on campus and why?

Despite its lack of windows and frequently rather foul smell, I love the science office.  It’s not really the space itself, but the people I find in there.  My colleagues are terrific and I thoroughly enjoy collaborating with them.  They are an incredibly smart, hard working and supportive group.

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