I am a geek professor! What’s that mean, well, mostly that I’m a geek and a professor. However, I have found that because of this, I do things a little differently than my non-geek colleagues, and because of this, I also tend to find and attract geek students to my class. There’s a pretty tight balance of doing my job and being a geek. Let me tell you how I do it.


One of the great things about being a college professor is the lack of a specific dress code. Now, I’m not a bum. I wear nice skirts or dress pants most days (nice corduroys when it is freezing outside). I have a number of nice blazers, sweaters, and dusters that I wear with these. The biggest geek thing about my wardrobe is that I wear nerdy t-shirts. Almost every day. I have lots of nerdy t-shirts of all types. I have Mario shirts and Tardis shirts and science shirts and Star Wars shirts. I pick nice designs. In fact, i tend to prefer artistic looks and minimal words. I try to buy them so that they fit nicely and aren’t loose, and overall it’s a well put together outfit – just geeky. I start off the year with my most obvious shirts – everyone knows Mario or Star Wars. Then, I switch to my less obvious Supernatural Starry Night or my artistic Firefly shirt with Serenity in oil paints.

starry night with a shadow of the impala, sam, dean, and castiel from supernatural


You’ve got to have nerdy stuff around your office to be a great geek professor. I have stuffed microbes (because I’m a microbiologist), starships made from office supplies, dice, a rubik’s cube (usually in fun patterns), tons of League of Legends stuff (mostly because my club does tournaments with them), and a Mariokart Luigi flag, just to name a few. I just got the Women of Nasa lego set for Christmas, so I’m going to have to find some space to set that up soon!

A stuffed microbe, an enterprise made from office supplies, an r2d2 lego, and a jedi lego

A few of my favorite toys!


I love to play music in class. I play it before class starts and any time they are doing some kind of active work in groups, which is most of the time. I’m a general music nerd, so I love all kinds of music, but one of my favorite things to do is use video game music as background for group work. In fact, I have a Pandora station devoted to orchestral game music that plays a lot of Zelda. The students that know, notice. The students that don’t know, well, just enjoy the background.


Class Set-up

As a nerdy gamer geek, I think playing games in class in awesome. In fact, I think class pretty much is a game. So, in my class, we have a variety of amusing, nerdy assignments. In one, the students have to create a superhero (or supervillain) based on one of the tissues of the body, i.e. Muscle Man who is very strong. We have “Mini-Boss Battles” in which the class fights against some narrative I’ve created and at the end of the semester they fight a “Final Boss” in which I present them with essentially a dungeon crawl, in one case through the human body with a disease. Sometimes we play actual board games that I made up just for class.

a game board with 4 semesters on it

The ACTUAL Game of College


As a geek professor, I drop references like it’s my job. Sometimes, they just come off as bad jokes, I reference some old nerdy thing, and the whole class stares at me blankly, and I say, “No one? No one? I’m the only nerd around here?”. They at least think that’s funny. My references are often random and fast. For example, did you know that neurons look like spaceships? In fact, they look just like Shadow Vessels from Babylon 5. Also, anytime Pandora plays Heat of the Moment on a Tuesday (which happens a surprising amount) I yell, “Uh oh, we might be in a time loop.” One of the creatures they encounter on one of their mini-boss missions is an Adipose (it’s a nonpolar planet – get it!). I make enzymes look like PacMan. These are just the consistent ones that I remember. I probably say nerdy things all the time and don’t even notice half of them.


Anyway, I hope now that you have some ideas of how to be a geek professor, or how to find one if you happen to be in college. Being this obvious to my students is awesome because I can find other geeks and connect with them, which can be tough for geeks in college. However, once my students learn that I’m a geek, they will often exploit that to get me off topic by asking my opinions on the latest Marvel movies or other things. I also invariably have to respond to the question of “Do you watch The Big Bang Theory” – no, no, no, no, no, no, and no. But anyway. This is how I geek out at work. Do you geek out wherever you are?

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