Dr. Karen Oberhauser
Special thanks to Dr. Karen Oberhauser for providing her time and expertise
in responding to your questions! Dr. Oberhauser is a professor at the
University of Minnesota's Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation
Biology. Visit Karen's "Monarchs in the Classroom" and education
Any childhood memory that was important in guiding you into your occupation?
How did you become interested in this field?
My family spent a lot of time in the outdoors: camping, canoeing, and
2) Any person, role model or leading authority that greatly influenced
I'm not sure if this influenced my career decisions, but I've always known
that I wanted to be a biologist.
3) Your background:(job title, profession, education/training etc...)
I have an undergraduate degree in biology from Harvard University and
a PhD from the University of Minnesota in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral
Biology. I taught high school science in Onalaska, Wisconsin for three
years before starting my PhD work. My job now involves teaching college
classes, most of them for teachers, advising six graduate students who
all study butterflies, and doing research on monarch butterflies.
4) Favorite work story or experience: (One of your most exciting, memorable,
or exhilarating experiences in the Field!)
This is an easy one. My first visit to the monarch overwintering sanctuaries
in Mexico was definitely a highlight! I'll never forget the feelings I
had when I first saw millions of monarchs clustered in oyamel fir trees
on a mountaintop.
What advice can you provide to a student who might be interested in working
in your occupation some day?
Learn to ask questions!
6) Any family members, including pets?
I am the oldest of four girls, and have two daughters. My daughters have
helped me with my research and teaching in the summers. My husband Don
is also a biologist; he studies a moth that is an important pest on corn.
We have two cats, many fish, and, in the summer, hundreds of monarch butterflies!
7) Favorite book(s), Favorite food(s), Any hobbies?
I read all the time; my favorite author is Barbara Kingsolver. My favorite
food is cheesecake, and the only hobby I still have time for is running,
which I do for four to seven miles every morning, even in the winter in
Minnesota. I spend lots of time watching my daughters play hockey!