A Day in the Life: Professor Helmut Hirsch, Distinguished Teaching Professor

Laura Kilkenny

Laura Kilkenny

What's a typical day in the life of a University at Albany professor? Inquisitive freshman and intrepid work-study student, Laura Kilkenny, undertook the challenge to shadow one of her own professors -- Helmut Hirsch, a Distinguished Teaching Professor who has taught at UAlbany for over 30 years. Here's his day:

 Professor Hirsch in his office 10:00 am - Professor Hirsch arrives at UAlbany.  
10:15-11:30 - Professor goes to his office, B12 in the Biology building basement, and prepares his power point slides for today's lecture. Today he teaches Bio 110z, General Biology.
Professor Hirsch in the tunnels 
11:30-12:10 - Chats with friend and colleague Sara Everill about the grant that they are working on dealing with the genetics of the responses to lead. They discuss and analyze their data in a friendly, intelligent manner.
12:10 pm - Professor gets his things together for lecture and picks out music for his students to listen to at the beginning of class. He decides on American composer George Gershwin.
12:15 - Leaves his office. It's raining outside, so he decides to take UAlbany's convenient underground tunnels to class.
Professor Hirsch at the LC7 podium12:20 - Picks up his microphone at the Mic Office right across from his lecture hall. Professor needs a mic because his Bio 110z class has lots of students in it!
12:25 - Arrives at Lecture Center 7 and gets himself situated at the podium. Chats with the teacher from the last class that was in LC 7.
Students in Bio110z12:30 - Bio 110z students come in and find a seat. There is a lot of energy in the class and the students look eager to hear today's lecture.
Students discuss a few concerns with Professor before class. Many are asking when the test grades will be posted on ERes.
Professor Hirsch's Lecture12:35-1:30 - Bio 110z class
Prof. Hirsch talks to the class about extra credit assignment and then begins the lecture on human population and competition.
Professor Hirsch answering questions1:35 - Professor Hirsch talks to students who have questions after the lecture.
 1:45 - Returns the mic.
Professor Hirsch checks the fridge1:55 - Hirsch goes back to his office, checks the fridge for anything he can snack on, but nothing's there. He was rushed this morning and forgot to pack a lunch. It's too late to go get something to eat because office hours start in 5 minutes! He goes back to his desk and checks his emails.
2:00-3:00 - OFFICE HOURS
Professor Hirsch with student during office hours 
2:00 - Student comes in to go over test questions from Friday's exam. Professor Hirsch is very patient with the student as he explains to her the correct answers. He even gives her helpful study tips so on the next test she can try to do better.
2:30 - Another student comes in to talk about a letter of recommendation for Med school. The student took two of Professor Hirsch's classes and said he loved both of the classes and that Professor Hirsch was a fabulous teacher.
Professor Hirsch's lab 
2:40 - Another student comes in and wants a letter of recommendation as well. Professor Hirsch must have a good reputation for these letters.
 2:50 - Student comes in for a grade change slip, Professor made a computation error last semester. Hey, he's human too.
Professor Hirsch at Registrar's office 
3:00 - Office hours are over. Professor goes to the Registrar's office to change the grade. The people at the Registrar's office are very friendly and Professor seems to have many friends that work in there.
Professor Hirsch checking his mailbox3:20 - Walks back to the Biology building, checks his mailbox and returns to his office.
3:30-4:45 - Continues working on his grant, eats some of the blueberry crumb cake Sara brought him, and leaves at 4:45 to go have his computer fixed because he got hacked into!

 Grant Info:

  • How toxins (e.g. lead) affect the brain.
  • Starting point: developing brains (children)
  • Their brains are more vulnerable, and the exposure to lead results in a reduction of their IQ, ADHD, etc.
  • Children usually are exposed to this lead if they live in lower income areas, they eat paint chips because lead has a sweet taste.
  • It can happen in suburban areas as well, scraping off old paint on the walls, revealing lead paint.
  • Nutrition plays a big role in the prevention of this lead poisoning, especially the nutrition of pregnant women.

Related Links:
Helmut V.B. Hirsch
Department of Biological Sciences
Distinguished Teaching Professors 


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