Faculty Spotlight: Andy Adams

There’s only one word to describe Andrew “Andy” Adams, assistant professor of biology, environmental science & technology: enthusiastic.

If you can’t tell from the multiple tanks full of snakes and reptiles around his office, you can certainly tell it from the way he speaks so highly of his students and the opportunities he presents them both in and out of the classroom.

As an educator, he tries to show his passion in every topic he covers in his courses, allowing the passion to “ . . . bring a positive enthusiasm to those topics so the students absorb a little more.” He approaches this with an authentic, easy-going attitude and excitement about the subjects. His goal is to always inspire, as he calls it, “the lightbulb reaction”: “It’s why I do my job . . . I enjoy seeing the ‘lightbulb’ reaction a student has when they’re like ‘oh my god, I get this’ or ‘I love this.’”

He also goes out of his way to be, in his words, “extraordinarily approachable” to his students so they see him as a resource both in and outside of the classroom. His flexibility as a faculty member at Harford Community College stems from his awareness of diversity on campus, acknowledging that “there’s no one size fits all.” He tailors his classroom to his favorite audience, his students.

But besides his exemplary teaching style, he is also at the top of his game within his field. He has spent the past year balancing teaching, helping students, and publishing an updated Biology 100 lab manual, along with updating the labs for Biology 121 for the upcoming fall semester. He was able to use a “guinea pig class” to test what worked and what didn’t, writing and rewriting the manual until it was up to his standards. While the process was difficult, Adams is proud of the finished product.

As if all of that weren’t enough, Adams also dedicates time to the Susquehannock Wildlife Society, where he serves as the president. The society, a nonprofit organization based in Harford County, provides wildlife conservation, research and education. His current research within the society includes copperhead snakes, wood turtles and hellbender salamanders. He describes it as “the best of both worlds” when the society allows him to take students out and do research with him. Not only does he help with HCC students, but with local school groups and Boy Scout troops as well.

Adams is another professor who utilizes both Harford County and the HCC campus for his research and conservation. He has been praised for bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge in wildlife studies. More recently, he has been heading the HCC Gone Wild Project with fellow faculty members. The initiative is a grant from the HCC Foundation for the enhancement of wildlife habitats, education and interpretation on the College’s campus. Two main STEM clubs, the biology club and the environmental club, are already playing large parts in the implementation of bird boxes and bee boxes around campus. Ultimately, Adams sees it as “not only [providing] wildlife habitats but also research opportunities for students, to monitor these boxes, do projects, take data and learn how to do all of that. So it’s not just for the wildlife, but also enhancing the student experience.”

Overall, Adams has inspired a following of wildlife enthusiasts from the student body due to his energy, knowledge and expertise. When he started two years ago, he automatically saw how HCC was a perfect fit for him, seeing the College as a “multi-pronged experience where it’s not just classroom learning and memorizing the facts. It’s experiences and a collection of those things. Harford has allowed me to create those experiences for students and I think it makes me a better professor.”

Emerging as one of the most respected ecologists/naturalists in the area, Adams has only just begun leaving his mark at HCC on the faculty, the students and the surrounding wildlife.