Video Chronicles Prof’s Relationship With MOS
By Geoffrey Douglas
It began for her, as a volunteer summer job, more than 30 years ago. She was 15 at the time, a high-school student with a developing interest in science. But somehow, between one thing and another, the job just never ended.
“I can’t explain it really, it just sort of kept on expanding,” says Asst. Prof. Michelle Scribner-MacLean of her nearly lifelong relationship with Boston’s Museum of Science.
“I started working there in high school, as a volunteer, and I just kept going back – working different jobs, at the front desk, in the library, just about everywhere you could work. It lasted through the rest of high school, then through college, then in grad school. I finally did leave to teach elementary school – but even then, I came back to work in the summers.”
Over the years, as she came and went from her museum stints, her jobs there grew more diverse, and more responsible:
“I worked with botanists, with entomologists; the work I did with Ken Pauley – an amazing naturalist, he became a mentor — was life-changing for me."
“I did the research for my master’s degree in the [museum’s] butterfly lab. There I was, with the keys to collections of butterflies going back to the 1800s. There’s almost no way to describe it really, the things I learned, what the museum was for me.”
Earlier this year, the museum produced a video, “The Heart of the Museum,”
which, among other things, profiled four individuals whose lives have been touched by their exposure to it. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who grew up in Medford, was one of the four; another was Michelle Scribner-MacLean.
“It was a real honor,” she says, “to be able to talk about how important, how truly special, the place has always been for me.”
Through many of those years of her comings and goings from the museum, she was a student at UMass Lowell (or the University of Lowell, as it was still known when her studies there began): first as an undergraduate – she earned her B.A. in English there in 1987 – later as a graduate student pursuing a master’s in education, which she was awarded three years later, and as a doctoral student after that. Having earned her doctorate, in 1999, she left the area to pursue a second master's, in biology, at the University of Nebraska, which she received in 2006.
Even then, she didn’t stay away for long: in 1999, she returned as a lecturer, and is today an assistant professor of science and math education in the Graduate School of Education. It is a job, notes Interim Dean of Education Anita Greenwood, that closes a circle of sorts: “from a teenager working at the Museum of Science, to a science educator.”
“I guess I’m just the type of person,” says Scribner-MacLean – in an understated verdict that could apply equally to her stints at the University or at the museum – “who likes to stay in one place a long time.”