As a Keene State College professor, husband and father to many amphibians, Dr. Ryan Woodcock has a passion for life.
Posters of arachnid diagrams, Star Wars episodes and even a personal library of scientific literature surround every aspect of his work space. His office also housed a handful of fish tanks filled with various forms of life, including axolotls.
Woodcock is a recent addition to the KSC biology department, but is no beginner to academia.
With contributions to over 10 publications, along with an extensive employment history at various other colleges and universities, Woodcock said his true passion is teaching.
“Teaching is my first love. It’s something that I’ve worked at and I have a natural love for,” Woodcock said. Woodcock’s personal research involves body part regeneration in flatworms known as planarians. Planarians are an excellent model organism in biology, and are known for quickly regenerating large parts of their body. Even after decapitation, regeneration only takes a few days, according to Woodcock.
As a child observing the natural world, his interests for biology began long before university and even high school.
“I was definitely that weird little kid that loved dinosaurs right before I went into kindergarten, and it always stuck with me from that point forward. I was keeping salamanders and newts as pets, and I would have opportunities to bring them to class. It was the beginning of my love as an educator.”
Sophomore biology major Callum Yule, who works with Woodcock, spends close to 20 hours per week on research Woodcock oversees. “I frequently work with Dr. Woodcock both inside and outside of the laboratory. I admire Dr. Woodcock for his invaluable experience and ceaseless flow of knowledge and suggestions,” Yule said.
Yule said he rarely speaks with Woodcock after lab hours since they are self-sufficient and work independently.
Woodcock is just one recent addition to the biology department. Dr. Priyanka Roy Chowdhury, a first-year assistant professor, uses daphnia as model organisms to understand environmental changes induced by humans. Daphnia are small crustaceans that are broadly termed “water fleas,” but have no relation to the insect. They are used in fish food and have unique characteristics useful in biological studies.
Apart from researching and teaching, Dr. Woodcock lives with his wife exploring other topics of interest, such as watching history videos, caring for his house-raised axolotls and watching movies.
Garrett McNamee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org