Dive into LAS research with a faculty-focused podcast

Resumes, publications, C.V.s – these show summaries of one’s career and research interests, of what they’ve studied and where they’ve been, how their experience spans years. What they don’t show are the reasons behind why a researcher chooses their topic or specialization, or the subjects and paths they may have diverted from.

Genia Olesnicky, Ph.D., Letters, Arts & Sciences (LAS) Assistant Dean and Department of Biology professor, is diving into these unseen areas as host of a new podcast, LAS Research Highlights, where you can get to know our LAS faculty and their backgrounds a little better while also learning about their current research initiatives.

“What I have enjoyed about these podcasts is that my guests have been honest about how they as students became interested in their fields and in their specific research projects,” explained Olesnicky. “For most of us, we did not go to college with these careers in mind. It was our experiences in our college classes, or interactions with our professors that led us down our current paths.”

For example, debut episode guest Jeremy Bono, Ph.D., LAS biology professor, wasn’t sure which research area he wanted to pursue until his junior year of college when he took part in a summer program studying the social behavior of ants. The show’s second featured guest, Colin McAllister, DMA, Director of Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Assistant Professor, originally started school pursuing an engineering degree.

“I have had a convoluted path academically,” McAllister shares during his interview. “I started off in aerospace engineering up at CU Boulder and that only lasted about a year. I was doing exams and studying all the time, and all I really wanted to do was play guitar. So after the first year, and much to my parents dismay, I switched from aerospace engineering to a music degree.”

Olesnicky has a similar story herself, having double majored in history before continuing her education and research in biology, and noted that hearing these experiences can benefit students who may be having similar struggles deciding on a pathway.

“Hearing each guest’s unique path to their field of study was really intriguing,” she said. “I think these stories will be very illuminating for students and relieve a lot of stress they feel if they don’t know what they want to do yet. And perhaps it will inspire them to take a chance and try something new.”

“Also, it is well established that students that participate in research have higher performance, retention and career outcomes,” added Olesnicky. “Communicating the diverse research taking place in the college is critical to recruiting our students to participate in research and hopefully inspiring them to work on interesting projects with faculty.”

Olesnicky started this project after going on a listening tour to meet with faculty from each LAS department and learn more about their research initiatives and needs.

“I was frankly blown away by the different research and creative works projects that our faculty were working on and I wanted to find an easy way to share this with the LAS community and create opportunities for new collaborations,” said Olesnicky. “I am also a very community-oriented individual and one of my goals as Associate Dean is to try to strengthen and instill a sense of community in our college. I also wanted to find a way to reach current and prospective students and alumni, to keep them aware of the amazing work our faculty are doing.”

Olesnicky has already starting creating those new collaborative opportunities by partnering with a VAPA student, Taeron Waring, to compose the podcast’s music.

“I knew I wanted to have a signature ‘jingle’ for our LAS Research Highlights Podcast and I really wanted this to be a collaborative, community-based effort,” said Olesnicky. “I reached out to our VAPA department faculty to find out if they might have any students that would be interested in composing the music for the podcast and Taeron volunteered for the project. He was incredibly professional and he did an incredible job.”

Olesnicky plans to share through as many LAS faculty interviews as possible, with upcoming episodes featuring faculty such as Jennifer Kling, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy.

“Our conversation was fascinating,” she said. “The interview highlights a situation where Dr. Kling wasn’t really interested in philosophy when enrolling in college, but then became captivated by the subject.”

The podcast is a long-term endeavor, with Olesnicky planning to interview as many professors as possible and explore all the LAS disciplines. In the meantime, check out the first and second episodes of the program to learn more about professors Jeremy Bono, Ph.D., and Colin McAllister, DMA, and find future episodes on the LAS Dean’s Office webpage.

“I know everyone is short on time, but I think you will learn so much from these podcasts,” said Olesnicky. “Each episode provides an opportunity to get to know an LAS faculty member in a very unique way and learn about a different discipline and way of looking at the world.”

About the UCCS College of Letters, Arts & Sciences

The College of Letters, Arts & Sciences at UCCS is the university’s largest college, enrolling nearly 6,000 students across 21 departments and programs. The college offers 19 majors and 53 minors in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Students can also choose from five accelerated bachelor’s and master’s degrees, nine full master’s degrees and three Ph.D. degrees, as well as pre-medical and pre-law programs. The mission of the college is to position graduates for success in their personal and professional lives, with a focus on thinking, creating and communicating — skills vital to employers and graduate and professional schools. Learn more about the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences at UCCS.