Meet Dr. Heather Sklenicka

Dr. Heather Sklenicka is obviously a fan of research (and cool pop culture things, as you can guess by stepping into her office) and trying to slay dragons in her spare time during a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

But instructing others on the wonders of science is what became her calling in life.

There are a couple reasons for this.

“Research is cool when it works,” Sklenicka began. “In my graduate career, everything I did my first two years worked great. It was so exciting and so much fun. And then nothing worked for the last three years.

“It also got to be quite monotonous,” she continued. “Those two things kind of swayed me away from pure research. And I’ve always loved to teach. One of my professors at University of Minnesota, within minutes of meeting me, said, ‘you were born to be a teacher.’”

So, when that opportunity came after moving to Rochester, she took it, and is able to pass down her knowledge.

Thinking back, Sklenicka remembers the moment when science studies became the thing she wanted to pursue.

In second grade, she wanted to cure cancer. That possibly sparked her love of science. It wasn’t until her junior year of high school when she took chemistry that she found “the one” science she loved. It took her only three days to fall in love with it. Plus, it was easy for her.

“When the seniors that were a year ahead of me in high school were asking me questions about chemistry, I was like, ‘yeah, OK – I can do this,’” Sklenicka reminisced.

That passion is still palpable in her classroom today.

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