Energetic Professors Bring Life to Science

By Zach McMahon in Life

Rob Schubert leapt around the class, bowlegged and hands cupped as he demonstrated how certain primates swing through the trees.

“It was hilarious to watch,” said Kara Minck, the president of Clark’s anthropology club and a student of Schubert’s. “It was an 8 a.m. class and he made it possible to get through those days.”

Schubert is an anthropology and forensic science professor, as well as the head of the anthropology department at Clark. He has a reputation among students for his passionate lectures about the subject he loves.

Schubert was diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade. “It made it very difficult to do math and science classes,” Schubert said. “So, I always hated it and I felt like I would never be able to do science. It was something only for smart people and I wasn’t smart, so I couldn’t do it. But what drew me to anthropology was that it was a different sort of science. It still relies on the scientific method, but applies it in a very different way.”

Despite his dyslexia, Schubert graduated from the University of Illinois before transferring and earning his master’s and doctorates at Ohio State University. He said he likes that anthropology is a combination of social and physical sciences.

“I went into anthropology thinking I wanted to be Indiana Jones because everyone does,” Schubert said.

Schubert did his dissertation in Ghana, where he studied two species of monkey for over 11 months in 2009. Schubert studied the differences between monkeys that lived on protected land and those whose forest were unprotected.

This real-world experience adds to what Schubert brings to his classes. Miles Jackson, dean of social sciences and fine arts, said, “Because Rob has this expertise and this enthusiasm for teaching the classes, they are extremely popular and students learn a lot in them.”

Schubert’s classes are popular because he has the ability to make lectures fun and interesting. “I try to take the student perspective,” he said. “I do put a lot of effort into trying to think about how to organize it in a way where I can make jokes or incorporate personal stories people would be interested in.”

“Every quarter I spend hours working on the PowerPoints, changing them and moving things around,” Schubert said.

His effort doesn’t go unnoticed by students. “His PowerPoints are amazing too,” Minck said. “They are so good to take notes on, anything you need is right there along with what he is saying.”

It all adds to Schubert’s reputation of being a passionate and energetic professor. “I just try to bring a lot of energy to it,” Schubert said. “Part of it is being animated. I’m tired, but students are here to learn, and they are going to learn a lot better if I can keep their attention on the topic we are working with.”

Minck has taken multiple classes from Schubert and said he makes early morning classes engaging. “Those days when you just want to fall asleep in class, but he is just so funny and interesting it’s not hard to stay awake for. His Ph.D is well deserved.”

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