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A Life-Changing Experience

Identifying a person who has changed your life is a true gift. For Stesha Pasachnik ’03, that individual is Biology Research Professor John Iverson.

Pasachnik, a biology major, met Iverson when she began a work study program at Earlham’s Joseph Moore Museum. When the Hamilton, New York native started at the museum, she was asked if there was an exhibit that she’d be interested in creating.  Knowing that a living snake exhibit already existed, she suggested extending the exhibit to include live lizards. With the help of Iverson and other museum staff, she constructed the exhibit and brought in a variety of lizards to put on display. In fact, her favorite thing about working in the museum was the openness that the staff had toward the creation of new exhibits and improvement of existing ones.

Working at the museum also gave her opportunities to lead tours and provide children with hands-on experience with a variety of species, which she enjoyed immensely.

“Seeing the look on a child’s face when touching his or her first lizard is priceless,” she says, “and an experience that the child will remember for life”.

With Iverson, Pasachnik had numerous field experiences during which she researched a variety of reptiles and amphibians. One of her first experiences with Iverson was a spring break trip to the Bahamas where she researched iguanas. For the first time, she recognized that she could have a career doing what she loved. Iverson’s guidance, teaching and expertise prepared her for her career. Their relationship didn’t end at graduation.  In 2005, Iverson invited Pasachnik to attend the IUCN Iguana Specialist Group (ISG) meeting. She is now co-chair of the IUCN ISG and enjoys being able to bring others into the world of iguanas.

Pasachnik launched from Earlham to make a global impact. After completing her undergraduate degree, she traveled to Australia for a fellowship, and was accepted into a Ph.D. program. In 2010, she completed her doctoral degree at the University of Tennessee, focusing on iguanas in Central America. From there, she relocated to Honduras to work as a regional director for a small NGO, where she collected some of the first data on a small endemic iguana. Currently, she is a post-doc at the Institute for Conservation Research in San Diego, a branch of San Diego Zoo Global, where she is focusing on iguanas in the Dominican Republic.

Stesha Pasachnik

Stesha Pasachnik 2003, Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Institute for Conservation Research in San Diego, California

Ph.D., University of Tennessee; B.A., Earlham College

Hometown: Hamilton, N.Y.

Major at Earlham: Biology

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