Around the age of 5, Karen Persky asked her family doctor what made people sick.
"The idea of something existing that I could not see was captivating," she said. "So I asked for a microscope for Christmas. My childhood friend Kathy and I spent countless hours in the basement staining slides, pretending to see bacteria and pretending to correctly dissect the frog specimen that came with the scope."
This was no childhood whim. Around the age of 12, Persky asked her mother to go insect hunting in the early summer mornings so she could capture, name and mount countless bugs for her collection.
"I remember how devastated I was when the collection fell from the top shelf of a closet," she said. "My mom and I spent days gluing heads, thoraxes, abdomens and wings."
Persky began her teaching career at College of DuPage in 1984 as adjunct faculty. During the early 1990s, she and a friend ran a busy small business, Complete Microbial Analysis. Finally, in 2003, she became a full-time faculty member at COD.
"I love the challenge of bringing others to seeing and appreciating the beauty and interconnectedness of life," she said. "My hope for my students is that they will finish their biology or microbiology class with a newfound interest in and respect for the natural world. I view teaching and learning as interchangeable and sometimes synonymous experiences. My students are the reason I love teaching."