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Scott Carlson

Associate professor of biology

First year teaching at Luther: 2000

Sound advice: Serves as the department's primary advisor for students interested in health careers.

Office decor: Bought himself a VeggieTales clock and keeps candy in an 8-inch-tall M&M figurine.

It's perhaps a little unusual that Scott wound up at Luther--from his undergrad days at the University of California--Davis to a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois, his academic career seemed oriented toward intensive research buried in a behemoth department at a research institution.

But, as luck had it, he knew something about the liberal arts community (his sisters are liberal arts grads), and he was looking for a school that valued good teaching as much as publishable research.

"I love the intimacy of Luther," Scott explains. "Even though we graduate a large number of majors in the sciences, our lab classes are really small--I get to know a lot of the students well, and research becomes an important teaching process, not just something required of faculty."

With years of experience investigating insulin, diabetes, and hypertension, Scott collaborates with several students in his lab research--"as many as will take a serious interest," he says. Three such students (whose summer research with genetically hypertensive rats was funded by a National Institutes of Health grant) recently presented their work in Washington, D.C.

In addition to directing Luther's general biology series and teaching physiology, neuroscience, and health-care ethics, Scott is a first-year-student advisor and a member of Luther's community assembly, a 20-person committee of faculty, staff, and students that formulates college policy on student life.

Beyond academia, Scott can usually be found restoring his family's 144-year-old home in Decorah's historic district ("Hallelujah--it's almost done!"). He also plays piano for worship services and serves as treasurer at Decorah Covenant Church.