Campus Closeup: Mark Paulsen
Mark Paulsen (Chemistry) is a self-proclaimed nerd. “I’ve always loved chemistry
– researching it as well as teaching it – and for fun I read things about history and politics," he said. "There’s really no denying my nerd status."
Paulsen has been teaching chemistry at NMU for eight years after transferring from a research laboratory at Washington State University. “I enjoyed my job at the lab, but I missed interacting with students, so I applied for this job instead,” he said.
Paulsen’s typical day begins with making sure his lectures are prepared, then double-checking the equipment and supplies that will be used for the day’s lab experiments. Between classes and before he goes home, Paulsen also fits in committee work, reading literature pertaining to the chemistry field, and meeting with his students. “They like to drop by my office and talk, so I try to be available for that.”
Compared with the weather in his hometown of Grand Island, Neb., Paulsen claims that the Upper Peninsula’s long winters and cool summers are tolerable.
“It’s definitely cooler here in the summer with a lot more snow in the winter, but on the average, it’s colder in Nebraska," he said. "The U.P.’s weather keeps you guessing; once it gets cold in Nebraska, it stays cold. I’m used to just admitting defeat and hauling out the snow blower."
But regardless of what the weather brings, Paulsen enjoys being outside. He participates in seasonal activities such as skiing and hiking to ensure that he can remain active throughout the year.
Paulsen says that chemistry, contrary to some people's perceptions, has its fun moments.
“My students get quite a kick out of my lab demonstrations, because when you’re working with chemicals, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. For instance, there have been times when the flames have shot up too high, or a chemical reaction doesn’t happen right away, and after I’ve given up hope on it, it’ll happen and take me by surprise. You never know what’s going to happen, and it keeps us laughing.”
Paulsen is glad he applied for his position at NMU. “I like the small class sizes here because I’ve gotten to know the students on a more one-on-one basis than is possible at other universities. I also enjoy my colleagues and the NMU environment in general. In 20 years, I hope I’m still here and still teaching.”
Campus Closeup is a new feature of the NMU faculty-staff newsletter. It profiles individual employees, offering a glimpse of their professional responsibilities and personal interests.