A Minute with Dr. Maria Davis, Professor of Biology

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What is your background in biology?

My doctorate is in entomology, which is the study of insects. I like to joke with my students that I am a “bug doctor” — they can send their sick bugs my way. Most of my research career was in applied entomology, where I addressed insect pest management challenges through sustainable agriculture and biorational insect control methods.  At the end of the day, I think of myself as a biological problem solver who happens to know a little more about insects than a typical person.

What do you like about teaching at The University of Olivet? 

What I love most about teaching is my students!  I particularly love teaching at Olivet because we really get to know our students – their strengths as well as their challenges, their dreams as well as their realities. This strong teacher-learner relationship allows us to personalize their learning experience and help them navigate their individual path to their future life and career.  I like to remind people that The University of Olivet isn’t great just because we’re small – we’re great because we’re Olivet!

What’s cool about the major or career path your classes are a part of? Why should students consider your field of interest as a career path?

It might be simpler to say that everything is cool about biology! There are so many things that you can do with a degree in biology; it’s hard to pick one or even a few career paths to describe.  Maybe the way to look at it is this: all careers dealing with any aspect of living things – such as medicine, agriculture, the environment, biotechnology, conservation, public health – are all grounded in biology. If you love studying about living things, we can help you find a career path to fit your passion.

What do you think all students should learn before graduating? What words of wisdom do you have to share?

I often tell students that you should look at your college degree as a ticket to doing something you love for the rest of your life.  The most important thing you can do in college is to figure out what really motivates and inspires you so you can go do that thing for the rest of your life.  We spend so much of our life working, why not have fun doing it?

What is an interesting or little-known fact about yourself?

Something most people don’t know about me is that I like to sing and play guitar.  I didn’t say I was good at it, but I do enjoy it.  I have even made up songs to help students learn biology. If you see me in person, ask me for a demo and I just might oblige.

Anything more you’d like to share?

Although I didn’t have the good sense to attend The University of Olivet as a student, my daughter Anna did. The day of her graduation from Olivet was one of my all-time proudest moments as a mom. Seeing Olivet through my daughter’s eyes reinforced all the good things I already knew to be true about this wonderful college!


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