Undergraduate Programs

The 8 Professors Who Changed My Life at Clarkson

Wyatt and his first-year roommate on a sunrise hike.
My first year roommate and myself (right) on a sunrise hike.

My name is Wyatt Tillmann ’21, and I am a senior environmental health sciences major from Goshen, Connecticut. When I found out that I was accepted to Clarkson, I was more than excited, but I also knew that it would be the biggest challenge of my life, with the rigorous academics, and that I would have to work really hard. Thankfully, Clarkson also has incredible professors and staff that are really interested in helping students succeed. That’s what inspired me to write this blog post.

I started out as a mechanical engineer, and after struggling my freshman year, I learned two things. First, I learned how to actually learn and work in a college setting. And second, I learned that mechanical engineering was not in my wheelhouse. At the end of my freshman year, it was my faculty mentors who helped me find my path and make me feel confident about my future.

I’d like to talk about some of the incredible professors I’ve encountered at Clarkson, and how they have impacted me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. And, they’re also just really cool people. 

Professor Chris Martin 

I met Professor Martin during my first year at Clarkson, as he teaches in the math department and I was taking a math class. He is an amazing person in general, and I would honestly recommend bothering him in his office. He has a huge Gandi poster on his door, so you can’t miss it. He got me through my second time taking Calculus I (yes, you read that right), and he was the one who led me to my amazing major, environmental health science. 

Fun fact: He drinks a lot of coffee (probably more than water), and he likes the band Phish. 

Professor Stephen Bird 

Wyatt and other Clarkson students on a hike during their Adirondack semester.
Here’s a few friends and I during our time on the Adirondack Semester.

Professor Bird or “Birdman” is like my father away from home. He runs the Adirondack Semester, which I participated in, and he also teaches courses at Clarkson. I see him as a king of multitasking, as he makes sure that every student he works with will succeed. He has been a guide, a light and a pathway to my personal and academic success at Clarkson.

Fun fact: He cracks a lot of jokes and plays Skyrim. We also went to a corn maze together and ate a lot of Doritos. 

Professor Stephen Casper 

Since my second semester, freshman year, Professor Casper has brought nothing but mentorship and positivity to my life. He is one of the most amazing people I have ever met and got me through some confusing times in my life. I don’t know where I would be without him. He takes time out for people, and I respect him so much. 

Fun fact: If you ever want to have an intelligent conversation or anything about JRR Tolkien, he is your guy.

Professor Bill Olsen 

Students smiling at the camera on canoes.
More from my time on the Adirondack Semester, where I benefitted from the help of Prof. Olsen.

Professor Olsen is a “jack of all trades” kind of person. He teaches the GIS course (Geographical Information Systems), and I have been working with him for about two years (my sophomore year and first semester, junior year). He is a very intelligent guy and can do just about anything. He makes the most complicated things very easy to understand. 

I had a very large project to do for Lake Placid during the Adirondack Semester, and he put me in the right direction every step of the way. If you ever have any questions or struggles, he will help you in the blink of an eye. He is a prime example of a prime professor. 

Professor Galina Melman 

Professor Melman teaches organic chemistry here at Clarkson, and she takes great pride in her work. So far, Organic Chemistry has been one of the hardest courses I have ever taken at Clarkson. I was never good at chemistry, and this was the highest level course I had taken in this subject; however, I never wanted to give up. If you put in the effort for her, she will always put in her time for you. I lived my sophomore year in her office — I might as well have pitched a tent! She spent a lot of time with me and made  the knowledge seem more simple than it was. She is like a mother away from home, and I do not know where I would be today without her. 

Fun fact: She has shared her tea with me many times while I spent time getting help from her in her office.

Professor Andrew David 

Professor David teaches Biology, Parasitology and several other biology courses. Throughout the years I have noticed that he and I have some core things in common, and it made me feel good to click with someone on that level. Sometimes when I talk to him, it’s almost like talking into a mirror. Overall, he is an amazing guy and is one of the people I will definitely call a friend for life. 

Fun fact: If you want to meet a guy who loves music, BBQing and living life to its fullest, Professor David is your guy.

Professor Jan Scrimgeour 

Professor Scrimgeour made one of the biggest nightmares I can think of (for me personally) a lot more simple — physics. He teaches Physics for Life Sciences I and II here at Clarkson, and he makes them very hilarious. 

Besides that, I have spent a lot of time with him understanding the subject, and he made that time very valuable to me. He will make sure that you understand the material and will take time for you.

Fun fact: If you actually pay attention in class, you will probably catch all of the funny jokes that he says under his breath. Sometimes, I feel like I am the only one laughing at his humor!

Professor Alan Rossner 

Wyatt and his bandmates, fellow Clarkson students posing in front of the Relay For Life banner.
Like Prof. Rossner, I also enjoy music! Here I am with my band, The Funky Bunches of Oats.

And last, but certainly not least, Professor Rossner has been my professor in multiple classes throughout my environmental health science career at Clarkson. He taught me Intro into Environmental Policy, Intro to Industrial Hygiene, Risk Analysis, and Industrial Controls (including all the labs). He is also the advisor for the environmental health science program, and in that role, he takes the time needed to help students like me move forward in my career goals. I could not think of a better advisor than him, and I think everyone who goes into any environmental studies should get to know him. 

Fun fact: He is really funny, has a taste in good music (classic rock) and is full of life experiences that he shares. 

There are also several other faculty members that I’d like to take a moment to thank for supporting me throughout my time at Clarkson and leading me to my future.

Professor Stefanie Kring

Professor Dmitriy Melnikov 

Professor Tom Langen 

Professor Christopher Robinson

Professor Charles Robinson

Professor Jan DeWaters

Professor Jim Peploski 

Erica Arnold

Alex French

Rebecca Hourihan

I’m so thankful to have such an incredible group of people surrounding me each day as I continue to learn here at Clarkson. Not only are they great at what they do, but getting to know each one of these professors and other staff on a personal level reinforces to me that I am not just another student, that they actually care about me and my education and want to see me succeed. I hope every Clarkson student takes the time to get to know our awesome faculty and staff. It’s worth it!

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