(Faculty Spotlight is a series of articles focused on highlighting faculty at FHSU. Faculty Spotlight is intended to be a regularly published series, so check back often to see future articles on your colleagues! To recommend a faculty member for Faculty Spotlight, contact the TILT Faculty Development Team at TILT-FacultyDev@fhsu.edu. Faculty Spotlight graphic by Cari Kelly.)
A full-time career as the zoological collections manager at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History would keep anyone busy, but that’s not quite enough for Curtis Schmidt. Schmidt is also as an adjunct instructor with the Department of Biological Sciences, teaching Medical Terminology as well as Museum Collections Management, an interdisciplinary course required for the Museum Studies Certificate. When asked about what he most appreciated about teaching for FHSU Schmidt states, “I enjoy teaching because it keeps me involved in the academic side of things. I really enjoy helping students prepare for their futures and the connections and relationships that teaching provides. I really enjoy being a mentor for student researchers, as well as serving on graduate advisory committees. The biggest challenge is finding the time to do it all, but I wouldn’t give up that time for anything!”
Schmidt earned his B.S. from FHSU in 1999 and his M.S. from FHSU in 2004, both in biology. His research interests focus on wildlife taxa and biogeography, studying range expansion and contraction of wildlife species. He also does museum-based research using the specimens under his care at Sternberg, looking mainly at reproductive and population biology of certain taxa. Recently he has been involved in research on the Northern Myotis, a species of bat that was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2015. Although much of the field work for such projects is done by graduate and undergraduate students, Schmidt is an active advisor and mentor. For the last three years, he also has helped mentor students in undergraduate research projects, monitoring the responses of plant and animal communities to prairie restoration activities at the Sternberg’s Howard Reynolds Nature Trails.
When asked about a day in the life of a zoological collections manager, Schmidt explains: “Fortunately, I cannot describe a typical day on the job as Zoological Collections Manager for Sternberg because there is no ‘typical’ day. Managing six different zoological collections, performing public education and outreach, trails maintenance, and aiding in exhibit development keeps me very busy and allows me to perform a very wide variety of tasks. In other words, it keeps me from getting bored of doing the same things over and over again. Being involved in so many different things is what I love most about my job at Sternberg!” In his spare time, he serves as an independent consultant in environmental issues, with his most recent jobs involving venomous snake safety and removal.
Schmidt is a member of the Hays Optimist Club, a self-described sports and outdoor enthusiast, and a craft beer connoisseur. He loves watching, playing, and coaching sports, herping (searching for amphibians and reptiles), fishing, hiking, kayaking, traveling, and taking drives in the country on summer nights, “just to see what [he] can see.” Schmidt and his wife Amanda have two children, Jonathan and Avery. The next time you find yourself at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, feel free to visit Curtis Schmidt!
More information about Sternberg Museum can be located at http://sternberg.fhsu.edu/.