Rena Bonem, Ph.D.
Question 1: Why did you become a scientist?
Answer: I needed to find a project for our local science fair when I was in the 7th grade. My brother suggested hamsters and genetics, but I loved collecting fossils. I was fascinated with trying to interpret ancient environments from the fossils I found in the local area. I continued working on science fair projects until I attended the International Science Fair my senior year. When I attended college, I had already decided to be an invertebrate paleontologist/paleoecologist.
Question 2: What are you most proud of in your work?
Answer: While working on my Ph.D. dissertation, I expanded my interests into comparisons between living and ancient reef systems. I became a scuba instructor and instructor-trainer to share my interest in reefs with my students and others because in the early '70s I noticed that coral reefs were rapidly degrading. I wanted to help stop the decline. I wrote the book "Palaces Under the Sea," with Joe Strykowski, as an attempt to share that knowledge with the general public. I also developed a Coral Reef Specialty Program for scuba divers and was elected to the Women Diver's Hall of Fame for that work.
Question 3:What fuels your passion for your work
Answer: Working with students, especially undergraduates, and sharing my love for science. As undergraduate director, I provide course advisement, curricular advice and help students deal with problems. As a research mentor, I enable students to solve problems and answer questions. I am proud of all my students, whether they became college professors, government administrators or stay at home with their children.
Question 5: Tell us about a hobby or passion outside of work.
Answer: [The sport of] dog agility. I have a house full of rescue dogs. I find that agility enables them to develop confidence and reach their full potential. We compete in AKC and NADAC, and hopefully you will see us at the National Agility Championships someday.