DR. SEAN COLEMAN: PASSION FOR TRAVEL, TEACHING

HOPE MATHER, GUEST WRITER

At a young age, Dr. Sean Coleman found his passion on the beaches of Florida.

Spending days outside playing with living things eventually turned into conducting lab research on various organisms. Coleman knew that he was born to explore the field of biology. 

Coleman took the position of associate professor of biology at Wartburg College in fall 2020. Teaching is anything but foreign to Coleman due to having prior experience as the Professor of Biology and Dean of Natural Science and Mathematics at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas. 

Coleman is originally from Rochester, Minnesota, and completed undergraduate work at Luther College. Then he proceeded to get his degree at the University of Iowa. Coleman moved to Arkansas for a job with his wife, three children, a bearded dragon, a small Russian tortoise, a blue-tongued skink, and two dogs. They had hoped to eventually make their way back to the Midwest and Wartburg’s job opening was their chance, he said.

“This job opened up and when I accepted, we didn’t realize we would be moving during a global pandemic, but it has worked out so well and we’re happy,” said Coleman.  

Coleman has always appreciated Wartburg. The college’s liberal arts education and Lutheran ethos influenced Coleman to apply.

“I am excited to work; I love working with students. I love students from all over. I like Midwest folk, having grown up in the Midwest. There’s something different about Midwest people. I am excited about being back,” said Coleman.

By age 5, Coleman wanted to become a marine biologist and play in the ocean all day, he said. He went on to study marine biology for two years at the University of Tampa. Coleman then spontaneously got his advanced open water certification as a diver. He soon struck up an interest in the molecular and microbiology field and realized he belonged in the Midwest, so he made the journey back.

Dr. Sean Coleman, associate professor of biology. Photo courtesy of Wartburg College Marketing and Communication department.

Minnesota, Florida, Arkansas, and Iowa are just a small chapter to the novel of Coleman’s travel destinations. Prague, Italy, UK, Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean are various places he has traveled so far, he said.

He said he has high hopes for Wartburg students in the future.

“I would very much like to take Wartburg students to London and the Bahamas for different types of study abroad situations in the future,” said Coleman.

Coleman said he strives to help his students and colleagues pursue and reach their goals. Grace, kindness, and compassion are three rules that he preaches to each student to practice.

If he could change one thing about the world right now, he would choose for the world to have more empathy. “I think if people had more empathy, everything would be better,” said Coleman.

Lexie Ehrlich a third-year, biology pre-nursing student at Wartburg, is currently enrolled in Coleman’s cell biology course. Coleman introduced his three rules for the first day of class, and Ehrlich realized his top values varied from other professors. 

“I really appreciate him for prioritizing being a good person over being intelligent,” said Ehrlich. 

When not teaching one may find Coleman watching his favorite TV show, “Game of Thrones,” or possibly rocking out to ’90’s alternative music while playing games with his family.

Coleman is always trying to work hard put play harder, he said. He plans on living the best life he can by enjoying his family while making an impact on his students’ lives. He wants students to take advantage of everything college offers. 

“For the rest of your life, you are going to be looking back on college as a time where you had your most free time. Enjoy it, make the most out of it. You’re going to make connections in college that will last your entire life, there’s not anything quite like it. Get involved and enjoy it,” said Coleman.

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