Faculty Highlight Featuring Chris Kodani
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Huntington Beach, California. It’s a suburb of Los Angeles. My parent’s house was 2 miles from the beach, and less than 1 mile from the Santa Ana River.
How did you decide to become a Biologist? I got interested in science early on. I can remember being in 3rd grade, and really liking science in school. In our house (way back before cable TV came to our neighborhood), we used to watch a lot of PBS, which had some very interesting science shows. Jacques Cousteau was a really famous marine biologist at that time, and I enjoyed watching his shows, and I wanted to be like him when I grew up. I went fishing at our local pier a lot. Unfortunately, I was scared of swimming as a kid, so when I went to college, I took a couple of swimming classes, hoping that I could become SCUBA certified and then do a marine biology quarter. That never worked out, but I’m a much better swimmer now, because my wife forces me to go on beach vacations!
What are some current research projects you are working on? Well, remember how I wanted to be a famous marine biologist, but it never worked out? When I moved to Georgia to become a professor at Clayton State, there were LOTS of streams around, and I just had to go find some fish to catch. That got me thinking that maybe I could do stream research, and I found a volunteer group called “Georgia Adopt-A-Stream”. They are such a great group of people, and they’re all about stream monitoring. I got interested in how the surrounding landscape affects the macroinvertebrates living in the streams, and that’s been my major research interest ever since. In order to map some watersheds, I had to learn how to work some geographical information systems software (GIS), and have really enjoyed using a computer and satellite imagery to measure the impervious surfaces around streams. I’ve been able to use those same skills to help Dr. Diane Day to map out some box turtles, which is really nice because when I was a kid my first pet was a box turtle.
Describe some of your recent accomplishments and/or awards and the significance of your accomplishments to the community. I was awarded the 2018 Innovation Award by Georgia Adopt-A-Stream, for my research on macroinvertebrate communities. The same group bestowed the 2014 Legacy Trainer Award upon me, which is given for 10 years training certified volunteers. This was neat because most of the people that I trained were students in my Ecology class right here at CSU.
What advice would you offer to students pursuing a degree in Biology at CSU? You need to love every class that you take, because you never know when you’ll need that knowledge in the future. Our best students do well in everything, and then they go on to some great careers. You should also be sure to find a good internship or do a research project in a biological subject that interests you, as these can help you to find that great career.
What are your hobbies and/or interests? I already mentioned my love of fishing, but I also like to go hiking. Model trains have been a life-long hobby of mine. I also love to travel with my family, and we particularly love theme parks such as Disney World and Universal Studios. I enjoy cooking, and exploring new restaurants to find new foods to cook.