Pioneer Spotlight: Dr. Amanda Trewin
There are two things Dr. Amanda Trewin has been interested in since she was young – biology and giraffes. Walk into her University of Wisconsin-Platteville office and the latter is very apparent. Trewin, who received her bachelor’s degree from UW-Platteville, is entering her 17th year as a biology professor at her alma mater, and recently took on the role of biology department chair. When she is off campus, Trewin enjoys working on arts and crafts, scrapbooking, spending time with family and researching her family genealogy.
You’re entering your 17th year as a biology professor at UW-Platteville. What changes have you noticed on campus and in the classroom during this time?
We’ve grown. There’s an increase in faculty and staff as the campus community continues to grow and gain students. I also think there’s more energy devoted to professional development, research, community outreach and various high-impact practices with students. There has been a change in technology and teaching approaches as well. When I first started, my classes were largely lecture style and that’s not necessarily the best way to reach students. Now I try to vary my approaches and implement more active learning strategies in order to help my students succeed.
What’s it like teaching at your alma mater?
Well, I can’t compare it to anything since I haven’t taught anywhere else. It’s exciting to be able to be back here, though. When I was applying for jobs, I really wanted to be in a community that had a four-year institution, but still had a small-town feel. My husband, who is also a UW-Platteville alum, and I knew that this was a community that we liked and could see ourselves raising a family in. My husband doesn’t like big cities and we were in Milwaukee at the time for his job, but we intended to come back to a smaller environment. When there was an opening here, I didn’t hesitate to apply.
What sparked your initial interest in biology?
There was no turning point, I think I’ve just always had an interest in biology. I did have a really good and influential biology teacher in high school and I had a science teacher that I really liked in 7th grade as well. While I think I was already headed in the general direction of biology at the time, they certainly didn’t deter me. They pushed and encouraged me and that’s what made the difference.
Recently you took on a new role as biology department chair. What are you looking forward to most about the new title?
I’m excited about the new position. I think we have a good group of dynamic faculty and staff. I think that we work well together and that we have talents and passions that mesh really well. We don’t have the exact same talents and passions, but instead have a wide assortment, which allows us to create an environment that’s more inclusive for our students as there is a variety of different directions that each student can go. I know all of the faculty and staff in our department, but I’m looking forward to getting to know them better. I’m also looking forward to learning more about leadership, project management and other aspects that I haven’t had much experience with yet.
Your office is filled with giraffes of all kinds. When did you start this collection?
It began in 8th grade as a joke among a group of my middle school friends. I got a green giraffe as a gift and it developed into this obsession. Through the years, a lot of people have given me giraffes, so I keep adding them to my collection. In our previous home, they were displayed in our extra bedroom. When we moved here, however, we didn’t have an extra bedroom and giraffes really didn’t fit with the décor of the house. I wondered, “What am I going to do with my giraffe collection?” So, I brought them all to my office, and they’re still here today. Ironically, giraffes are not my favorite animal though, that honor has always been and will continue to be Homo sapiens.
Interview conducted by Amanda Bertolozzi, Writer/Editor, Communications. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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