University Marketing and Communications

Tom Klubertanz

February 25, 2021

Written by Craig Schreiner | Photos by Craig Schreiner

In WHY I TEACH, Tom Klubertanz, professor in the College of Integrated Studies, talks about how his childhood sense of wonder for the natural world never left. It became a pathway he followed to a life of teaching and scholarly research.


Tom Klubertanz with a Madagascar hissing cockroach on his hand.

Biology professor Tom Klubertanz smiles as his students watch a Madagascar hissing cockroach explore his fingers in a biology class on the UW-Whitewater Rock County campus.


“I had the goal of being a biologist, even as a young child. I discovered my interests in teaching when I was a teaching assistant in a geology lab and as a mathematics tutor, when I was an undergraduate student. These experiences showed me the rewards of teaching. I continued to seek teaching opportunities in graduate school, adding teaching assignments to my research responsibilities.”


Student standing in a lab reading an in-class exercise.

Freshman Elizabeth Gomez, front, reads from an in-class exercise on primitive plants as Tom Klubertanz teaches in the background in Biology 122, an introductory class for majors in science, medical and related fields.


“On the Rock County campus, we have no typical students. Our student body is very diverse, and that diversity is multidimensional. In the classroom, that means every student has a different academic background, personal experiences and preparation for the classes they are taking. I enjoy teaching in that environment, where individual attention is essential.”


A student is working in the lab next to a microscope.

Freshman Eric Nguyen works on a classroom exercise on primitive plants in Klubertanz’s introductory class for majors in science, medical and related fields.


“I spend much energy and time creating new exercises and learning tools for students. That includes software packages that I author,” said Klubertanz. “ These programs include those for presenting lectures, learning tutorials, homework assignments and laboratory simulations. I enjoy finding novel solutions to long-standing challenges to learning in the biological sciences. Just like any attempt to help students learn, it is rewarding when the learning tools I have created are successful and engaging.”


Tom Klubertanz holds an illustrated book on mayflies.

Klubertanz is an authority on mayflies, important members of aquatic communities and valuable indicators of water quality. At left, he holds an illustrated volume that he authored that helps people identify more than 150 Wisconsin species of mayflies, and 40 more whose range could include Wisconsin.


“I enjoy opportunities to engage with students during research. I study mayflies. Most summers, when there isn’t a pandemic, undergraduate students collaborate with me on field and laboratory work. Past field work with students has included remote places in Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the wilderness of northwestern Ontario.”


Tom Klubertanz stands with a student in the lab.

Klubertanz, right, helps liberal studies major Leah Woods during an in-class exercise in primitive plant structure in a class for majors in science, medical and related fields. Woods, from Janesville, plans to pursue a career in medical equipment sales.


WHY I TEACH is a series about the dedicated professionals at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, including professors, coaches, advisors and other staff members, who make every day a teachable moment — and every place a learning place — by their expertise and example.

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