Gatepost Interview – Robin Kolnicki
By Steven Bonini
What is your role at FSU and what does your job entail?
I’m a visiting lecturer in the Biology Department and I teach courses in Human Biology, Intro to Biology, Intro to Genetics, and labs.
What is your professional and educational background?
My educational background includes a master’s degree in education, a master’s degree in biology, and a Ph.D. in geosciences. My research is on chromosomal evolution in lemurs and bats. My undergraduate studies were at American International College in Springfield. And there I received a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a master’s degree in education. And then I went on to the University of Massachusetts, where I received a master’s degree in Biology and a Ph.D. in geosciences. But I spent quite a bit of time in biotechnology, and also in organismic, and evolutionary biology. I worked on my Ph.D. for a long time because I switched departments.
How did you end up working at FSU?
My husband was working in Cambridge, we needed to live nearby, and this was as close as we could get to Cambridge and still be within driving distance to the University of Massachusetts. So, when I first started working here, I was working here in the day and then commuting to the university and taking courses at night.
What would you say are your goals as one of the visiting lecturers in the Biology Department?
My number one goal currently is to have all of my students succeed. We’re in a difficult time right now, and I see there’s a lot of stress on campus. And I’m doing as much as I can to help elevate the students and help them to stay on track and to do well in this course.
What would you say is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is having access to these wonderful students. I enjoy being here. I live nearby. I’m never in a hurry to go anywhere. And my daughter goes to school here and I enjoy her friends and just the environment of the energy that young people have of aspiration and vitality. I enjoy being around young people – I think that keeps me young. I enjoy the academic environment as well. I like the events that happen on campus. I go to a lot of events, but what I most loved above all were the trips. I miss all the FSU trips, because I would go on the winter, something over January, winter trip, and I would go on the spring break trips, or in the summer. Sometimes in May, there were trips to the Middle East when Yaser Najjar was here as a geography professor. ... Those opportunities were only available to me through Framingham State University. Those are the high points of my career here – spending time with the students in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
What are some hobbies of yours?
I’m an artist – I do acrylic painting, and I make jewelry out of crystals and semi-precious stones. And I play drums. And I’m a gardener. That’s the big thing for me – my plants. Over these past couple years, I’ve had a lot more time to focus on artwork. I’ve been making montages of some of my photographs from the trips that I’ve been on, along with acrylic painting, and making a montage or a collection of pictures. I was inspired by Megan Maxfield here at Framingham State. She’s an administrative secretary on the first floor of Hemenway, and she has these pictures in her office and taught me the skill. And so, I’ve been making many of those pictures with a focus on time travel and a kind of science fiction element to it. I made a painting of a three-dimensional collage of the antikythera device. It’s an ancient clock that’s thousands of years old – found oW the island of antikythera in the Mediterranean near Greece. It’s a famous ancient cosmic clock that is very interesting. So, I’ve been making a lot of montages, but also doing laser-cut puzzles.
Do you have any advice for campus students?
Big advice is to relax. Try to just find space to relax and not get overwhelmed. I feel that a lot of students have too much pressure right now with everything that’s going on, and that sometimes, they just need a little space to take a breath, and stay focused, and not get overwhelmed. Also, to reach out to your professors if you are. Those students who come to me and explain that there’s a lot going on in their life – I’m very sympathetic to that. I appreciate when they come to me, and I don’t have to go track them down to find out why they’re not showing up or what’s going on in their life because I don’t like them to just disappear. Contact them if they’re not around. It’s important for the students to reach out to their professors and let them know what’s going on. I don’t think I’m alone in that. I think that most – if not all professors – do care about their students.