20 Questions with Professor KatieAnn Skogsberg
January 3, 2013
Skogsberg and husband Shane took their engagement photos at
the tree between Sutcliffe and Crounse Halls, her favorite spot
Assistant Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience.
2. Where did you grow up (and describe the place in one phrase or sentence)?
“20 miles from town” in Idaho, on the border between farm country and the Owyhee Mountains.
3. What are your hobbies?
Right now, just hiking. I used to train show horses, and ski in the winter, but things change.
4. What is your dream vacation?
Either touring castles in the UK or exploring the area where they filmed “The Man from Snowy River” on horseback in Australia.
5. Favorite artist and/or work of art?
It’s hard to pick just one! I like both Bev Doolittle and M.C. Escher for how they play with perception. But I have a soft spot for equestrian art. The UK artist Tony O’Connor is a current favorite.
6. Favorite novel or poem?
“The Man from Snowy River” by Banjo Patterson—yes, there is a bit if a theme here. A teenage obsession with the film I never outgrew!
7. Favorite sport (to watch or play)?
Watching football, especially my alma mater Boise State.
8. Favorite TV show?
“Dr. Who” (David Tennant, Russell T. Davies era) or “The Big Bang Theory.”
9. Favorite album?
Not sure about a favorite album, but my Pandora stations are seeded with Train, fun., and Taylor Swift.
10. Favorite holiday?
11. Favorite food?
12. Most prized possession?
Probably the collections of mementos that I’ve saved from special occasions. Things like pressed pennies from places I’ve visited, ticket stubs from events and other little token sized memories. I’m actually pretty sentimental.
13. Three people, living or deceased, whom you’d invite to the same dinner party?
Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Alfred Russell Wallace, so I could just sit back and let them talk. The third would be my husband, because I told him about the question and he asked if he could come too.
14. Favorite aspect of your job?
Working with brilliant students and colleagues. I am always challenged, always learning, always trying to find ways to improve either my teaching or research. The way I see it, the moment you stop learning, the moment you become complacent in what you do, you might as well just hang up your spurs—chalk, Power Point laser, whatever—and be done with it all.
15. Most memorable experience of your youth?
My sisters, parents and I had a lot of good times traveling around Idaho and the northwest showing horses. Maybe the most poignant was at the American Quarter Horse Youth World Championships in 1989. It was my last year to qualify as a youth and I took two horses. One had belonged to my sister but he was seriously injured the year before while she was at college, so I had nursed him back to health. The other was a green horse on loan from a family friend who wanted to make sure I would have something to ride in case the other horse didn’t recover. Neither horse had ever been to a professional trainer, but we qualified both of them for the worlds that year. (Most of the riders I was competing against had their horses in training year round with professionals, so that was a big deal). We didn’t make any of the finals, but we had a lot of fun, and I got a lot of satisfaction out of doing it on my own.
16. What would you be doing if you weren’t working at Centre?
I love teaching, and I love Centre, so hopefully I would still be teaching at a place like Centre. However, if for some reason working at a college was not an option, I would probably go right back to the horses. It never gets out of your blood.
17. Educational experience that's been most helpful to you?
About 15 years ago, I was giving my older sister a riding lesson. We were all getting frustrated—the horse included—when I told her, “Just stop! You are doing it wrong!” and she turned and shot back, “Then YOU must not be explaining it to me right!” I realized she had a good point. I had to think of a different way to explain it to her, and that turned out to be a whole new level of challenge that I still really enjoy. While this isn't exactly “educational” in the academic sense, it has greatly shaped how I approach teaching.
18. Fictional character in whose shoes you’d love to spend a day?
River Song—another Dr. Who reference. Smart, strong and sexy.
19. Favorite place on campus (and why)?
The old big tree between Sutcliffe and Crounse, by the parking lot. My husband and I took our engagement photos there, before we even knew if I had the job. I also love my new research labs.
20. Advice you'd give to a first-year college student to make success more likely?
Two things. 1) There is an old teaching adage that says, you will only remember about 10 percent of what you read. To be successful at Centre you will need to do MORE than just read the book or re-read your notes. Memory research has shown that the more connections you can make to the thing you are trying to learn, the better it will stick. The more you engage with the material from lots of different angles the better you will be able to store AND retrieve it when you need to. If you’re stuck on something, try different modes of engaging with it, such as talking about it with your classmates or finding a way to turn it into a drawing, picture or concept map—or song, poem or interpretive dance, if that’s what works for you! Then make it personally relevant by finding a way to apply it to your life and it will stick.
2) Practice getting the information back out with just as much effort as you put into storing it. Neural connections are essentially a one-way track. You can store things, but unless you build a pathway to retrieve it, there will be no way to get it back out when you need it. That is where we come back to the talking, drawing, or singing and dancing. Practice getting the information back out. Otherwise you’re stuck taking an exam thinking to yourself, “I know I read that …” and not able to access it because you haven’t practiced retrieving it.
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