Get to know Dr. Karin Gastreich!
by José Luis de Mesa Galindo
Dr. Karin Gastreich is currently a professor of biology at Avila University in Kansas City. From a rather stereotypical perspective, we usually think that people who work in science fields are focused purely on empirical matters and have left behind the world of the imagination. This is not the case for Dr. Karin Gastreich, who since childhood developed a deep connection with both nature and the world of fantasy. At 8 years old, as Karin recounts in her blog, she and her friends imagined that their bikes were horses, cardboard boxes were time machines, and that mermaids and dolphins lived in the swimming pool. Clearly her beautiful imagination has no limits and after reading this the first thought that comes to mind is: why is it that Dr. Gastreich is a full-time biologist instead of a full-time writer?
Well let´s travel to the past of Karin to discover this. As a girl, Karin always had a passion for the sciences. In high school, she won regional and national science fair awards for research on cancer. She started college with an eye toward a career in medical research, but after taking a course in animal behavior, she decided her future lay in field ecology. In college, she traveled to Venezuela to study the evolution and maintenance of cooperation in Neotropical wasps, in the beautiful environment of los llanos de Venezuela. She went on to graduate school to complete her doctorate in zoology, and has maintained an active research program in tropical ecology ever since.
Karin is deeply dedicated to increasing opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in the sciences. For ten years, she has worked with the Native American and Pacific Islander Research Experience (NAPIRE) Program, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. The program provides funding for Native American and Pacific Islander students to conduct original field research at Las Cruces Biological Station in Costa Rica, under the guidance of a personal research mentor.
During her career as a biologist, Karin never lost that magic and enthusiasm for writing. She has always sought to balance her life between these two loves, and she made it possible. In 2007, Karin published her first fantasy novel called Eolyn. Eolyn is about a young woman who struggles against oppression in order to practice a forbidden form of magic, a magic grounded in knowledge of the natural world.
“Vigorously Told deceptions and battle scenes will Satisfy fans of traditional epic fantasy, with a romantic thread.” – Publishers Weekly
“Magnificently written.” –Kindle Book Review
Dr. Karin Gastreich today balances her life as a biologist and writer. She currently is on sabbatical in her second home in Costa Rica (Spring 2015), working on her third novel as well as on a volume of ecology research papers based on the NAPIRE Program. Her fantasy worlds reflect the many places she has visited as an ecologist, in the United States, Europe, and Central and South America, with misty forests, vast savannas, and dense jungles. Karin hopes, through her writing and teaching, to instill a deep appreciation of the natural world, and to communicate our ethical responsibility toward each other and toward all the creatures of the planet. Karin teaches several courses at Avila, including: BI 115People and the Environment, BI 112 Ecology and Evolution, BI 351 Animal Behavior, IS 365 Ecology Through the Writers Lens, and IS 331 Women and Science. Below you can find a link to her blog if you want to get to know this wonderful person.