Decorated with animal skeletons and glass jars of prepared specimen, the new Professor of Biology Nick Gidmark’s office is instantly striking. He prepared most specimens himself. The skull of a barracuda he caught in the Caribbean sits on his desk next to his computer.
“I could talk your ear off all day about different things that I have,” Gidmark said.
Gidmark describes himself as “an equal opportunity zoologist,” although he admits he is especially partial toward fish.
Originally from Minnesota, where he completed his undergraduate degree in Fisheries Biology, Gidmark has studied from coast to coast across the United States. After receiving his PhD in Ecology and Biomechanics from Brown University, he completed a year-long postdoctorate in muscle physiology. From there, he moved to an island marine lab in Puget Sound, Wash. for a few years and then settled in Chicago for a year. This is his first term at Knox.
This term, he is teaching Comparative Anatomy with plans to teach Introduction to Biology, Introduction to Research and — his favorite course to teach — Fish Biology. While Gidmark’s academic interests span across a lot of ground, fish and anatomy are his main interests.
“There’s just this huge diversity of tasks that they have to do, like swimming fast or biting hard and there’s all these different solutions that evolution has come up with for how to deal with those challenges in life,” Gidmark said. “It’s kind of hard to cut open a shark and not get at least a little bit jazzed by it.”
So far, he is thoroughly enjoying his time at Knox. “Students who aren’t even in my classes just get stoked about stuff and want to talk,” he said. “It’s really refreshing.” He appreciates their involvement and loves sharing his interests with students.
Gidmark has a research lab in SMC and invites students to do research with him. His equipment includes a 3D printer and high speed video cameras among others. He explains that with a 3D printer, it becomes possible to enlarge objects that are normally too small to study in class. It helps him break down complicated anatomy so it makes sense to students.
“That’s what I’m all about, that’s why I’m here,” Gidmark said. “I’m really excited about having students involved in that research.” He expects his research projects to get off the ground after he settles into life at Knox.
He welcomes students to visit his office. “I love to keep my door open and I love to have students randomly walk by so if anybody wants to see any of these random weird pieces of anatomy, they should come by.”