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Snapshot: Rachel Prunier

Published: June 28, 2019 at 08:00 am

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Occupation: I am an associate professor at Western Connecticut State University and just completed my seventh year. I teach biology, particularly genetics and evolution. My research focuses on the genetics of how plants evolve, focusing on plants in South Africa.

Family: I have a husband, Colin Kremer. He’s a post-doctoral scientist who is employed by Michigan State University. He’s an ecologist, so our interests are similar. I have a 13-month-old daughter, Aerin. She is also an ecologist; she loves to say Hi to trees. We’re expecting baby number two in the fall.

How long have you lived in Newtown? For six years. I had lost touch with a good friend of mine from college and, by chance, found out she was working at the veterinary hospital in town. We were working in the same area, so we lived together my first year in Newtown.

What do you like to do in your free time? I like to go for walks and hikes and read a book. Hopefully, I’ll get on a bike again this summer now that my daughter is old enough to be put in the [bike] trailer.

Do you have a favorite book or author? My daughter is actually named after the heroine from the book The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. My husband and I both liked the book independently, so it worked out when we were trying to choose names.

What is your dream travel destination? In Kazakhstan there are forests of wild apple trees. I think that would be really cool to see. My husband and I press and make hard apple cider.

What is the best part about Newtown? We love the small-town community feel. We live just up the hill from Sandy Hook Diner, and Maureen and the other staff there love our daughter. It’s a place where we really feel at home.

Who has been the greatest influence in your life? My mom, Vivian. She is also a biologist and worked for her whole career. She is really showing me how to be a working mom and how to be a scientist. She incorporated her love of science into our childhood, too.

If you could spend the day with one person, who would you choose and why? My family. When my sister, brother, nieces, nephews, parents, and I all get together, we have a lot of fun.

Who is your favorite musical artist? I enjoy bluegrass. I like Alison Krauss.

What is your favorite food? My husband and I like to cook Indian food.

What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever been given? My grandmother once told me that only boring people get bored. I’m sure I was an 8-year-old complaining that I was bored. Now whenever I’m bored, I think of that and find something to do.

What is something you cannot live without? A book to read.

What is your proudest accomplishment? The work I do with my students in the classroom and in the research lab. My classes are really tough, but when students learn and figure out how they can succeed, they push themselves further than I think many of them have been pushed before. It can be really empowering for them. I’ve had many students come back and tell me that my classes are the ones that helped them prepare for their post-graduate careers and graduate school. I hold that real close. I feel like I’m making a difference at Western.

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