Gatepost Interview Bryan Connolly: Assistant Professor of Biology

(Photo by Brad Leuchte)

What is your resume and educational background?

The last position I held was actually as the state botanist for Massachusetts. I worked for the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, which is part of the division of Fisheries and Wildlife in Massachusetts. Before this, I was a lecturer at Connecticut College where I taught similar courses. I worked at an organic food co-op for a while. With my wife, I co-own a small farm in Connecticut. … For my undergraduate, I went to the University of Vermont. I am from Massachusetts, though, and I ended up studying there. My master’s and Ph.D. are both from the University of Connecticut.

How would your students describe you?

I hope that I present myself as knowing a lot about plants. I hope that [students] feel comfortable with me and with asking questions. I hope I’m approachable.

What was your favorite undergrad experience?

We had a three-week botany trip to Costa Rica. We saw over 100 families of plants and we traveled in a small van all over Costa Rica.  We went from sea level to all the way up into the mountains. We visited almost-deserts to jungles. That was a lot of fun.  That is probably the experience that stood out the most. We have a tropical biology class here over spring break that is going to Puerto Rico. The trip is being lead by Dean Carroll and Dr. Van Roo.

Do you have any hobbies?

I have the farm! I also do a lot with seed saving. So I save seeds of crops of different plants. I actually have a book on seed saving that I wrote. I’m a dad. I don’t know if that counts as a hobby, but it’s fun and challenging. That’s mostly what I do with my time when I’m not here. I have a son who is nine and a daughter who is six.

What would your students be surprised to learn about you?

I also studied anthropology as an undergrad. I spent a year in Mississippi collecting plants for the University of Mississippi. One thing that is funny – I don’t know if I should say this – back in the ’90s I had dread locks. I told some students once and they were amused.

What advice would you give to FSU students?

The faculty is here to help. Talk to us about careers and [ask] questions. Be persistent with your goals.