Author Ben Pierce shares his journey from nature enthusiast to genetics instructor

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We asked Professor Ben Pierce, author of Genetics, A Conceptual Approach and Genetics Essentials, what inspired him to teach biology. 

My interest in biology began at an early age when my family would take vacations in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. Growing up with three brothers, our parents made it a priority to keep us active and outdoors. We spent our summers hiking the mountain trails, observing wildlife, identifying wildflowers, and learning about the history of the area.

These experiences fostered a deep appreciation for nature within me. As I grew older, my curiosity about how nature works inspired me to pursue a career in biology. At the age of 14, I embarked on a wilderness canoe trip in Southern Ontario, known as the Quetico, a vast region consisting of interconnected lakes. Our guide, whom we nicknamed Fez, taught us essential survival skills, such as setting up camp, cooking food, and navigating between lakes.

Fez's approach was hands-on; he never carried our gear or paddled our canoes for us. He understood the importance of each individual making their own journey and taking responsibility for it. Fez's philosophy deeply influenced my own work as a teacher and textbook writer. Rather than being a mere conveyor of information, I see myself as a guide for students on their introductory genetics journey.

With 43 years of teaching experience under my belt, genetics never ceases to fascinate me. It is a field that constantly evolves and remains relevant to our lives. Through teaching, I have had the privilege of sharing this amazing subject with my students year after year. My goal is not only for them to grasp the details of genetics but also to appreciate the broader beauty of the biological landscape. Genetics is a captivating field, and I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to learn and explore it alongside my students. Every year brings new discoveries and insights, keeping the subject fresh and exciting. I am grateful for the chance to be a part of my students' genetic journey and witness their growth and understanding. In conclusion, my passion for biology was ignited by childhood experiences in nature, and it continues to fuel my dedication to teaching genetics. As a guide, I strive to assist my students in mastering the principles of genetics while also nurturing their appreciation for the wonders of the natural world. 

Watch this short video to view his response!