Meet a Colleague: Jeff Rahl Jeff Rahl is a professor and department head for earth and environmental geoscience.
Q. How long have you worked at W&L?
I began teaching at W&L in 2006.
Q. What courses are you teaching this term?
This winter, I am teaching my class on tectonics, which focuses on the development of mountains and plate-scale processes.
Q. What is the most satisfying aspect of teaching?
I love seeing students succeed at a task or assignment that they initially found intimidating, such as identifying minerals with a microscope or writing code to analyze data. Observing that feeling of “oh, I totally can do this!” is really satisfying.
Q. What do you like most about working at W&L?
Oh, this is such a great job, and it is hard for me to choose one thing. I really value the freedom and support I have to try things, whether it is developing a new course or taking my research into completely novel directions.
Q. Where is your favorite location on the W&L campus?
I really enjoy the back-campus trails.
Q. Where did you grow up?
A suburb of Cleveland, Ohio.
Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be an astronomer. This is a subject I still find fascinating.
Q. Who inspired you to teach? What about them inspired you?
As an undergraduate at the University of Dayton, I took several courses with a religion professor named Mike Barnes. He was an amazing instructor and seemed to have both knowledge and wisdom about almost everything. He made the life of an academic, devoted to scholarship and teaching, extremely attractive.
Q. What is the most adventurous thing that you have ever done?
I’ve had some wild adventures doing field work. One thing that comes to mind was doing work by horseback in Argentina with my colleague David Harbor. I had never been on a horse before, and within a half-hour of getting started I was in the middle of a river with rushing water high enough to soak my feet.
Q. What book are you reading now?
Over the past few years I have become interested in understanding how it is that people come to believe the things that they believe. Right now, I am working through “Escaping the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic and Respect” by Mick West.
Q. What is the website you visit most often and why?
I rarely make time anymore to watch or even listen to baseball, but for some reason I obsessively follow baseball news at mlbtraderumors.com.
Q. If you could have coffee with one person, who would it be?
This is an impossible question! I’d probably give a different answer every day of the week. For today, I’ll say: Carl Sagan, the astronomer and science educator. His curiosity, reverence for nature, and faith in the potential of humanity are inspirational to me.
Q. If you could live anywhere, where would you build your dream home?
I am more concerned about who I am with rather than where I am. I am very happy living with my family as part of the Lexington community!
Q. Your favorite film (movie) of all time?
Q. Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I really, really dislike mayonnaise (though I understand many people love it!).