Meet Johnny Farnen, Science Lab Assistant

How long have you been at Bellevue University? In various capacities, for three years.

What programs/ classes do you teach? I am the laboratory manager/technician/resident science nerd for Natural Sciences in the CST.

Tell us about your previous work/schools? I’m a retired US Navy Gunfire Controlman. I worked in defense contracting, industrial engineering, and electronics. I attended a number of fine art and technology related institutions around the planet. I also am somewhat active in the fine arts scene.

Degrees/awards: B.S. in Biology, Stationary Engineer 3rd Degree,

What do you love most about teaching at Bellevue University? While I’m not a teacher per se, I provide real-time support for our professors and students here in the labs. With the multi-million dollar laboratory classrooms, state-of-the-art equipment, and what is likely one of the most independent positions on campus I greatly enjoy seeing people gaining exposure to stuff they otherwise would never think about.

What motivates or inspires you? I do not have to specialize. In the course of an average day, I get to be a chemist, a biologist, a zookeeper and a gardener. Sometimes I have to do some paperwork too, but I don’t let that get me down. My previous career was equally exciting, but I worked extreme hours and odd shifts. I never had time to live or have hobbies. Now I get paid to do my hobbies.

What experiences or people had the most influence on you? That is a tough question. I guess simply put, I have always been the kid with a bug in a jar and muddy feet.

What interests you outside the classroom? What are you passionate about? I enjoy native landscaping, wrenching on my 1958 VW Bug, fossil hunting, and sculpting. If I have time I like to read, paint and draw.

What is your favorite teaching experience or memory? Introducing Biology 101 students to field collecting specimens for class. I had forgotten that not everyone got to run around with a backpack full of jars, bags, and field guides.

What career did you dream of when you were a child? I wanted to be a paleontologist or a special effects make-up artist. (Comically, those are some of my hobbies now!)

Where did you grow up? Summit Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania

What is your favorite book? I have a list. First place is a tie between The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Steel Beach by John Varley.

What is the most important piece of advice you give to your students? Never rush out of a lab. If you get done early, hang out and chat with everyone. That is where you get your most valuable education in the sciences.

Originally Posted on February 10, 2017 on Alumni Blog Author Jennifer Woodard Bellevue University

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