It’s in the Genes: Tom Schulz by Jean M. McLean

Hopefully Jean M. McLean’s article "Discovering Fun" in this month’s issue of ParentLife has helped you get your child excited about science. Jean had the chance to interivew Tom Schulz and get his advice on nurturing young scientists.

“For me, science is about discovery,” says Tom Schulz, cell biologist. “It’s like jumping on an explorer’s ship 300 years ago. It’s a fascinating opportunity.”

Schulz seeks to nurture his four children’s interest in discovery. For his homeschool family, he is the “special projects guy,” with his wife carrying day-to-day educational responsibilities for two boys and two girls, ages 6 to 12. Schulz took his Georgia family to see the once-every-17-years cicada swarm in North Carolina as part of his effort in “trying to infuse them with a sense of wonder and discovery.”

This Australian native benefitted from his mother’s emphasis on academics. She also gave him time to observe. He says children must have time to watch and track changes, an essential part of the scientific process. “I had a lot of time to read, think, and observe. Kids these days are harried,” he says, often through overscheduled athletics.

He says many biologists’ early interests in the field seem to be triggered by interaction with pets, and encourages families to take time for children to be involved with the animals around them.

Although he calls science “a closed field, spiritually,” Schulz knows colleagues watch and learn from how believers react to stress and adversity. These agnostics also notice when others are there for them in their time of need. While Schulz is studying cells, he is also planting spiritual seeds.

Schulz works in a cutting-edge field, both professionally and personally. At work, he has seen the wonders of an embryo’s heart pumping its first beats while also studying even earlier stages of development. At home, he explores the frontiers of fatherhood, ministering to other dads and making online observations.

“Probably due to my scientific training, I’ve made a bit of a case study of being a dad, and mentally collated as much information as possible whilst on the job. I’m starting to convert that memory bank to text, and attempting to offer advice for ‘starter’ dads.”

For Schulz’s insights on work, family, and faith, visit his blog at

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