Emmalyn Ylaya, Contributing Writer
Almost two years ago, Biology Professor Julian Damashek joined Utica College and he is enjoying his role on campus while building a life in the Mohawk Valley.
Damashek is a aquatic microbial ecologist and biogeochemist. He studies the ecology of microbes (bacteria and archaea) in aquatic ecosystems such as rivers, lakes and the ocean. He enjoys working in local ecosystems, including the Mohawk River and the lakes in Upstate New York.
“They give me and my students a unique knowledge of how these ecosystems operate,” Damashek said. “Ecosystems that many of us drive past every day coming to and from work or school.”
Working with undergraduates and teaching and developing various classes on campus, such as Fundamentals of Biology, Research Methods II, Ecology and Molecular Biology, are fulfilling for Damashek.
“Given its role in the local community and the high proportion of students from the New York City area, Utica College has a distinctly diverse student body encompassing a wide range of student life experiences,” Damashek said. “This was evident when I interviewed and remained ones of the things I love about this campus.”
A native of Hampstead, Maryland, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and his doctoral degree from Stanford University. From there, Damashek spent three years as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Georgia.
He worked in four different labs as an undergraduate student, which allowed him to work at an undergraduate institution and learn from many enriching experiences.
“I was privileged to see how multiple professors ran their research labs and how they approached scientific research, and I learned a lot by being in those environments,” Damashek said. “I love introducing undergraduate students to scientific research and seeing how much they enjoy generating and making sense of their own data.”
While biology and science are two of Damashek’s biggest interests, he also spends time focusing on fun hobbies that bring him a lot of enjoyment. He loves baking and playing musical instruments, such as the guitar and banjo, and singing.
“I like to sing mostly folk and old-time tunes,” Damashek said. “I am also an avid baker where I bake mostly bread. I like to make primary bread of various kinds.”
Looking to the future, Damashek said he is in the process of developing an Aquatic Biology class that will be offered in the 2021 – 2022 academic year. This is a class where students will have the opportunity to compare ecology and diversity of biological communities in freshwater and marine environments.
“Students will learn about field and lab sampling techniques to look at various aspects of ecosystems functioning and biological communities in aquatic ecosystems,” Damashek said. “There will also be design and conduct a research project in the lab.”
In addition to his being a biology professor at UC, Damashek enjoys spending time with his wife and four children. Relocating to the Mohawk Valley was a good choice for him and his family.
“The Utica area is a great place for us to settle,” Damashek said. “Is it close to nature and has a nice, slow pace of life which I like.”