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Lee Kass

Lee Kass sits for a picture.

If you weren’t working at WVU, what’s the most likely alternative?

If I weren’t working at WVU, I’d probably be working at another college of agriculture somewhere. I got my degree in the college of agriculture, so that’s where I’d like to be. Alternatively, I’d like to be in the College of the Bahamas where I taught on my Fulbright in 1996. I just loved it and I loved doing research with the students there. The only problem working in the Bahamas is the hurricanes. It’s pretty dangerous down there when hurricane season starts.

Moment you knew what you wanted to study:

Originally, when I went to college I wanted to do child psychology. I started college and I took a course in psychology and decided it was mumbo jumbo. At the same time, I was taking a biology class that I just loved. It was interesting because it was the prerequisite course to the psychology course I was taking. I thought, “This is what I want to do. I want to do biology.” At the time, I wasn’t going to do plant biology; I wanted to study oceans. It’s very interesting in order to be an oceanographer, you have to understand the underpinnings of the ocean and that’s all based on plankton. Most of the plankton that’s out there is algae, so I started to take courses in algae and became interested in plants that way.

Moment you knew your current role was right for you:

I wanted to keep my focus on genetics and because I wasn’t teaching full-time, I thought I would sit in on the graduate genetics seminar. I really got to know the students and enjoyed it very much. When the professor retired, I was asked to help out and co-teach the graduate genetics seminar with two other faculty members. I was honored to do that and I’m still doing it. My contribution to the class is solely voluntary. That allows me to stay current in my field and to continue teaching, which I absolutely love, and guiding graduate students, which is very fulfilling.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

One is the Bahamas if the weather were compliant and there weren’t so many hurricanes. The other place would be Italy. I absolutely love Italy. I visited Italy when I was on a post-doc in England. Every time we had a break, I would leave England and go to Italy. Another passion of mine is art history. I wanted to go to Italy and see as many of the Renaissance masters as I possibly could.

Favorite part of social distancing:

I don’t mind working from home because I live in Fairmont and I don’t come to campus every single day. I guess my favorite part is having really, really good IT people to help me when I can’t get access on my computer. That is so important to me, and they’ve been phenomenal.

Least favorite part of social distancing:

My least favorite part, of course, is not being able to see my students face-to-face and give them a hug. And I miss my friends. We used to get together for lunch once a week at least or have dinner parties. I can’t go to synagogue anymore, except socially distanced.

Just for Fun

Favorite book: The Life of Madam Curie

Favorite movie/TV show: NCIS, Castle; Field Of Dreams

Favorite Spotify playlist/band/song: Beethoven’s Third Symphony

Favorite local restaurant: El Rey

Favorite local activity: Yoga