Joining the Emporia State faculty full-time this semester, Jeremy Aber is the third member of his family to become an instructor in the earth science department. His mother and father have both been teaching at ESU for over 30 years.
Aber’s father James, professor of physical sciences, said it is “no problem” having all three of them teaching at the university because they all have “different courses, specialties and interests.”
“It helps that I have some support,” Jeremy Aber said. “Not that the rest of the faculty aren’t supportive – they certainly are – but…it definitely is a little bit strange at times. Ten years ago I don’t know that I would have predicted (teaching with my parents), but it’s not a bad thing.”
Aber, an Emporia native, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from ESU in 2005, and completed his master’s degree in geography from Kansas State in 2007. He will also graduate with his Ph.D this December. Aber said he majored in art at first because ESU didn’t offer an undergraduate degree in geography, and art was “right up there with geography.”
“I did that partly because I wanted to be involved in the glass blowing department here, although I’m not really using the glass blowing skills that often today,” Aber said. “When I was growing up we traveled a lot. We lived in Europe, and we lived in Canada once, so I always liked learning about the world and learning about different places – whether that be the physical stuff or cultural stuff, (such as) people and languages. That’s what drove me more to geography.”
Aber said he had experience teaching at ESU before searching for full-time employment and was familiar with the community, so it was a good fit from that perspective.
“My interest as a college professor tends to be more focused on teaching rather than research, which is part of Emporia State’s mission,” Aber said.
One thing that helps relieve stress for Aber is a Neo-Geo arcade machine in his office that plays various video games. The games are on cartridges, so he said it’s kind of like having a “big arcade version of Nintendo.”
“I had this in my office at K-State as well, partly because I don’t really have room for it at my apartment,” Aber said. “I have some other games at home, but it’s nice to play a game for 10 minutes. It’s something fun (and a lot) of students ask to play it. I really don’t get to play it that often.”
Aber teaches Computer Mapping and Introduction to Earth Science (both the lecture and lab). He said he has an “open door policy,” so if students need assistance, he’s there. Because he resides in Manhattan, Aber’s office hours are limited, but Richard Landzettel, senior earth science major, said he is pretty quick to respond through emails.
“He helps cover all the classes that his father would normally teach that he can’t always cover and stuff. (Now), more of the computer classes can be offered without overloading Dr. (James) Aber,” Landzettel said.
Jaime Carlos, senior earth science major, said Aber carries himself well and that he is charismatic and knowledgeable about the software they use in Computer Mapping.
“He’s definitely an asset to the university,” Carlos said.
Small class sizes are also something that Aber said he enjoys about the school.
“When you really get into a lecture in a class, and you can tell students are engaged, it’s a lot of fun,” Aber said. “It’s just a lot easier to get to know students and sort of figure out what their needs are and actually know what their personalities are like.”
Aber said he is currently in a temporary teaching position at the university, but has applied for a permanent position for next year and hopes to stay.