MySpace: Tom Steele

MS'83 PhD'95

  • job: Superintendent, Kemp Natural Resources Station
  • lab: 235 acres of old-growth forest, wetlands and pristine shoreline in the heart of Wisconsin’s Northwoods
  • what I do: Oversee research, instruction and outreach at CALS’ only dedicated natural-resources research station

What’s the most unique feature of your lab?
The Kemp station was originally the summer estate of the Kemp family, which was donated to the university in the 1960s. We support some of the last remnants of old growth hemlock-hardwood forest in the Lake States.

How many people work in your lab?
This year, the station will support more than 50 research projects, more than 15 field classes and a dozen outreach programs. All totaled, we will probably see more than 6,000 user days of research and instruction.

Is work 9-to-5 or 24/7?
Definitely 24/7.This past summer, we hosted a team studying the spawning behavior of muskies. Muskies spawn at night, so they were working from dusk to dawn. At the same time, we had other researchers studying the impacts of forest management on bird populations, and they were up before the birds.

What’s the view from your office window?
Towering oaks, maples, hemlock and pines. Many times I have looked out the window to see white-tailed deer, red fox, black bear or wild turkey ambling by.

If you had to evacuate, what would you grab first?
My dog Gus. She is a seven-year-old black lab that comes to work with me each day.

Eat out or brown bag?
Neither, I live on the station and walk home for lunch each day.

Where do you get your best work done?
In my office. The Kemp family donated many of the furnishings in the buildings, and so my office is furnished with some grand antiques.

What keeps you in Wisconsin?
Ask anybody and they will tell you I have the best job in the entire university.