2015 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Vikki Rodgers, Babson College

Vikki Rodgers

Associate Professor of Environmental Science & Ecology

Babson College

 

Vikki Rodgers

Students in Babson College professor Vikki Rodgers’ economic botany class better not go barking up the wrong tree: one of the assignments is identification of 10 of the 30 species that grow on campus. The environmental science prof has channeled her deep appreciation for the natural world into her teaching and research, focusing on subjects including climate change, land use shifts, and the spread of invasive species. While she has publicly expressed frustration with the politics around climate change, she believes her students are committed to taking action on multiple fronts, from renewable energy to recycling to limiting pollution. “People are looking for the business community to be leaders,” she told the Babson magazine. “I put it on them to be part of the solution.

Age: 38

At current institution since: 2007

Education: B.S., Biology-Ecology & Evolution, University of New Hampshire, 1999

Ph.D., Biology-Biogeochemistry, Boston University, 2007

Courses currently teaching:

Case Studies in Ecological Management

Economic Botany

Environmental Technology

Professor you most admire:

Dr. Tom Lee, my forestry professor from UNH whose passion for teaching was infectious. He taught me about complex vegetative sampling and analysis, but also the joy that comes from having a job that allows you to be outside in nature doing research.

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when…”

Honestly, not until after I came to Babson. I initially took a temporary position here, assuming that I would go elsewhere because I couldn’t see why a business school would want an ecologist – but after interacting with students for just a few days, the need and the opportunity to connect business and environmental science in meaningful ways became so apparent to me.

“If I weren’t a b-school professor…”

I’d be a field journalist

Most memorable moment in the classroom or in general as a professor:

Hiking through the Costa Rican rainforest, knee-high in mud with my business students and having them explain to me the vital importance and value of tropical ants.

What professional achievement are you most proud of?

Receiving Babson’s Dean’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2012

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Getting students excited and engaged in realizing the importance and relevance of ecology and environmental science in their everyday lives

What do you enjoy least?

Grading

Fun fact about yourself:

My father was a professor of microbiology, my sister is a professor of marine biology, and currently both of my kids think it would be cool to be a science professor.

Favorite book:

Anything by David Sedaris or Bill Bryson

Favorite movie:

The Big Lebowski & The Royal Tenenbaums

Favorite type of music:

Depends on my mood – anything except cheesy pop or country

Favorite television show:

Walking Dead & Modern Family & The Daily Show

Favorite vacation spot:

Mountains in NH or beaches in Maine

What are your hobbies?

Vegetable gardening (I have a killer organic, heirloom garden in the summer)

Hiking & camping & geo-cacheing with my family

Biking

Twitter handle: @vikkirodgers

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have…”

…ecological impact courses as a requirement for graduation

Students say…

Professor Rodgers has inspired me to be a change maker.  Her difficult, yet very rewarding class one of the best ones I’ve ever had the honor of taking, and I look up to her for advice as I pursue my concentration in Environmental Sustainability.  Not only does she care about her students, she creates a passion in us as she exposes us to the environmental issues facing our world today.

– Kim Dvorak, Babson class of ’16

Babson has a diverse student body, international students compose about 30% of the campus as well as a mix of the United States well represented. Professor Vikki Rodgers has the difficult task of educating large groups with an extreme degree of variation of prior knowledge. Teaching a science course of business students is an added hurdle. I believe that she excelled in the acceleration of all the students’ interest while catching those with less science knowledge on more basic principals. I remember my experience with Professor Rodgers as being very organized and well structured. This is relevant because it influenced the overall experience in the course from the syllabus to the final presentations and feedback. Many professors are able to provide structure; but lack the follow through which Rodgers provided. It differentiated the experience by allowing students to focus on the subject matter. She was able to contextualize environmental science by identifying the elementary principals and their impact on recent technology and business endeavors.  She made her class and her interests relevant to the those of ours. In a business context, I would say that she was consumer experience focused. The lessons did not stay as simply lessons, but transformed into applicable knowledge that I use when reading and analyzing news, business, and technology. In my opinion, that beyond any other measure is the mark of a great educator.

– Daniel Girdusky, BS in Business Management 2012

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