I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Kevin Shaw, who is one of the professors in the Hopeman School at Grove City College. As a member of both the biology and chemistry departments at Grove City, Dr. Shaw is a unique person. He teaches primarily biochemistry courses, in which students learn the chemical approach to trying to understand living systems. He has been at the College as a faculty member for 18 years, having also obtained his undergraduate degree here as well. His Ph.D. is from Texas A&M University, where he was in the biochemistry and biophysics departments. After completing only nine months of post-doctoral work, he came back to the College to fill a recently vacated teaching post, primarily teaching anatomy to begin.
One of the main things Dr. Shaw does at the College is research that he leads with students. His research is primarily in the field of protein thermodynamics, and the work that he is doing is being added to a database that he has been building up over his years. He mentioned that one of things he would do if he was no longer a professor would be to become a database administrator, so it was very clear to me that he has an enthusiasm for data that is unlike many others.
A main reason Dr. Shaw enjoys Grove City College is that professors are the ones teaching the classes and labs to students, which is unique to many colleges and universities these days. Dr. Shaw mentioned how he loves the teaching portion of his job, specifically because one of the classes he teaches is a biochemistry seminar. In this class, he explained that students learn how to explain very complex and abstract concepts to people who may not have been exposed to that specific area or may not have been thinking about such topics. He also loves spending time in the lab, which is a rather “freeform” aspect of his job.
He mentioned that he loves “hanging out with students” who help to keep him young. Part of his job is to be the academic advisor to students who want to go to medical school, so he has a lot of interaction with students, specifically discussing the intricacies of applying to med school. One of the things he highlighted was the variety of majors that get accepted to medical school. There is a lot of freedom for students who have an interest in medicine, and that many different majors have an equal shot at pursuing a medical career. He talked about different students who have gone on to become researchers, academics, and a variety of other careers. He was quick to encourage me that although many students are hesitant to major in biochemistry since they don’t actually take a biochemistry class until their junior year, almost every (if not all) student finds they enjoy it.
Outside the classroom, Dr. Shaw has a wife and two children, who are “lots of fun” and he also likes running “moderate to long distances” when he has the time. However, it is very evident that the majority of time is spent at school, doing the work he loves. I could tell even from our short interview that he is devoted to his job, and he cares greatly about the students he works with day in and day out. Dr. Shaw is a stellar member of our faculty here at the College, and I hope that I get to interact with him more in the future.