Duncan Johannessen - Senior Lab Instructor, University of Victoria

CurioCity Careers
3 August 2017

Duncan Johannessen

Senior Lab Instructor at the University of Victoria

I was born/grew up in: Mission, BC, Canada

I now live in: North Saanich, BC Canada

I completed my training/education at: Fraser Valley College, UBC, Dalhousie University

Describe what you do at work.

I spend a fair amount of time at a computer dealing with email from students and from TAs. Coordinating and running the labs is the majority of my job. I also work with rock and mineral samples and other lab materials each week and spend time teaching.

When I was a student I enjoyed:

How does your job affect people’s lives?

Most people have not done any Earth Sciences before taking these classes. It is great fun watching people discover that they really enjoy this topic and seeing them become excited about the material.

What motivates you in your career?

Teaching is my big motivation. I enjoy revealing the world of Earth Science to students and seeing how many react positively to this fascinating topic. I have recently had the opportunity to teach our introductory Earth Science course and found I have really enjoyed teaching a wide range of Earth Science topics to a large class. I also do some outreach with local schools which has been a great experience also.

When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:

Describe your career path to this career.

I took a long path to get here. I started by taking Geology at UBC and during that degree, while I really liked the Geology, I decided I wanted to teach it more than practice it. I then got a teaching degree from UBC also. I taught some high school but you don't get much chance to teach geology there and I found I related better to older students. So I then did a Masters Degree in Geology at Dalhousie University in the hope of working at a college level. Upon returning to BC I started looking for work and got a job doing science writing at the Institute of Ocean Sciences. Here I picked up some Oceanography which came in handy as my current job includes some Oceanography knowledge as well as Geology. While working at IOS I kept looking for a job that would include teaching and when I heard about this position I applied right away. This is exactly the kind of job I had been looking for - doing and teaching Earth Sciences.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

I have two children and they have taken up most of my spare time, I became a Cub and now Scout leader due to my son's interest in that. I do some running and biking but could do with getting in better shape. I used to fence (sword fighting as a sport) and hope to get back to that soon. I still read a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy and listen to podcast short stories on my commute.

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

Get as much experience teaching or helping teachers as you can, especially at different age levels. This will help you figure out what age you most want to work with and as you work with various teachers you will see different approaches and methods. Pursue your passion, more job interviews were won by people with passion than by people with perfect grades!! Reach out to people doing what you want to do and ask their advice - most people are happy to give a few tips.

CurioCity Careers

We hope you enjoyed learning about this great STEM career! The information in this career profile was provided by this individual especially for CurioCity. We hope it helped give you a sense of what this type of job is really like.

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