Take Five with Dr. Mark Batzer
Editor’s Note: Take Five is a new Q&A column featuring a faculty or staff member and their thoughts, ideas and contributions on all things related to LSU. In this month’s Take Five we sit down with Dr. Mark Batzer. Dr. Mark Batzer is currently an LSU Boyd Professor and the Dr. Mary Lou Applewhite Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University. Dr. Batzer’s research interests focus on comparative genomics, transposable elements, human genetics, and computational biology. Dr. Batzer was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. His family moved to Hudson, Florida during high school. Dr. Batzer received his B.S. Degree in Zoology and Microbiology from Michigan State University in 1983, and continued there until 1985, when he received his M.S. in Zoology. In 1988, he completed his doctorate in Genetics/Zoology at LSU, after which he completed a postdoc in Molecular Genetics at the LSU Health Sciences Center in 1992. Dr. Batzer completed his postdoctoral education in the Human Genome Center at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he continued as a Biomedical Scientist until 1995. Subsequently, Dr. Batzer joined the Department of Pathology at the LSU Health Sciences Center in 1995, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1998. Dr. Batzer moved to the Department of Biological Sciences at LSU as a Full Professor in 2001. Dr. Batzer has previously been named the George C. Kent Professor of Life Sciences (2005), and the Andrew C. Pereboom Alumni Departmental Professor (2006) prior to being named LSU Boyd Professor and Dr. Mary Lou Applewhite Distinguished Professor in 2008. Dr. Batzer enjoys hiking, biking, fishing, travel, playing competitive softball and is an avid sports fan.
What do you find most endearing about LSU?
The very friendly and supportive nature of LSU. It is a family friendly environment and is very conducive to faculty, staff and student development. The institution and of course the people of Louisiana are very warm and friendly. This is one of the most friendly places that I have ever encountered. The culture here, as well as the people make it really hard to resist. It is a really great place.
In your opinion, what makes a great university?
Like any other business or educational enterprise what makes a great university is its people. People are the number one resource that the university has. It is the actions of the people representing the university that really leave an imprint. Collectively, faculty leave an imprint through our educational activities and molding the next generation of citizens. The research enterprise, and all of the academic endeavors that it encompasses also make LSU a great university. What makes LSU great is also the environment that is created and fostered from the president’s office and throughout the entire university community. I feel very fortunate to have been at LSU throughout my career. LSU has been very positive for my development and I can’t imagine having a greater opportunity for success at any other university then I have had at LSU.
What is your ultimate research goal?
In my opinion, research is one of three focal areas for all faculty members. The three focal areas are teaching, research and service. Ultimately our research will help to better understand how mammalian genomes are put together and help to determine the function of the structural genetic variation within genomes. I strongly believe that research directly impacts and drives our educational mission. Therefore, I believe that the educational and research missions of LSU are tightly integrated with each other. As we move our research forward we are also training the next generation of citizens and providing them with insight into how the scientific process works will benefit them throughout the rest of their lives. Overall, my goal is to continue to run a world-class research program that has a positive impact on LSU's reputation nationally and internationally.
What do you hope is your lasting legacy at LSU?
My legacy will be the imprint that I make in the educational and research activities of LSU and how that contributes to the development and advancement of all the members of my laboratory. Being a professor requires a very unnatural act of primatology. If you do this job right you have to put the interests of your people ahead of your own interests. My job is to help my people to achieve their goals, whatever they may be. By doing that I get back the indirect sunshine of their successes. The greatest satisfaction that I get is to see my people do well and move on in whatever endeavors they undertake throughout their lives. The measure of my impact and legacy will be through my people.
What's your favorite time of year on campus and why?
My favorite time of the year is Fall, because I like the fall colors and cooler weather combined with football season. There is no greater place to be on Saturday night than Tiger stadium! The atmosphere is electrifying and one of a kind!