The Children’s Department is so excited to present this week’s STEAM interviewee to you…Wieteke Holthuijzen! She is not only an accomplished grad student, but she collaborated on a book that we have on our library shelves! So please give a warm welcome to Wieteke, and enjoy reading about her extraordinary experiences.
What is your name?
What is your job title and where do you work?
Graduate Student, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University
What do you do for a living?
I study the unique plants and animals that live on small islands, far away, and how to protect and conserve these organisms.
If someone is interested in your line of work, what should they do to achieve their desired outcome? Is there a certain field of study or certain experiences that they should strive for?
Field work! The best way to get a career working with and studying animals is by working outside. Field work gives you the chance to work in the outdoors, closely study plants and animals, and make a difference through research and conservation.
With regards to your work, what is the most amazing or exciting thing you have ever discovered, learned, or created?
So far, one of the most exciting (but also scary things) that I’ve learned is about invasive house mice out on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, the world’s largest albatross colony. Years ago, mice started to attack and kill albatross, so management began to apply poison (rodenticide) to protect the albatross. And, although the mice are still around and mouse attacks on albatross have largely ceased, when I did a diet study of Midway’s mice, I still found large amounts of albatross DNA in mouse diet–meaning that mice probably scavenge albatross a lot. Really interesting, but also a little scary to find that out! Where is the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge? Check out the map below!
See the red dot in the middle of the ocean? That is where Wieteke Holthuijzen studies the albatross!
What are your hobbies? Do you like comic books, manga, music, scifi? Sewing or art? Tell us what you like!
I love drawing and doodling, playing music on my cello, banjo, and ukulele, I love being outside and hiking around, birding, cooking.
Tell us something fun about yourself! A silly story, a fun thing you have done, or something you are proud of… what would you like the children and families of DeKalb to know?
The first thing that folks usually ask me about is my name–Wieteke Holthuijzen. My parents are actually from the Netherlands originally (although they have been in the US for about 40 years now) and they gave me a truly Dutch name.
Do you have a favorite section in the library to read or find books? What is your favorite memory of time spent in the library?
One of my favorite memories in the library was doing a presentation about albatross on Midway and reading a part of the children’s book that my friend wrote, “A Perfect Day for an Albatross.” It was so much fun to be able to share this book, and especially being able to share such a special and unique place with the DeKalb community.
Click here if you would like to reserve this book from the DeKalb Public Library! There is also an education guide. Please find the link at the end of the interview.
Please list your favorite book (or books!) from when you were a child. Why did you love this book so much and how old were you when you read it?
I loved “The Big Orange Splot” by Daniel Pinkwater; the story was so creative and I loved the message in it (being true to yourself). The illustrations were so colorful and I would spend hours looking through that book. Plus, the book started off with my favorite animal–a bird!
What genre do you like to read now that you are an adult? Do you have a favorite author?
Probably fiction and mystery books. I especially like the “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series” and the “44 Scotland Street Series” by Alexander McCall Smith.
If families wanted to see the work that you have done or read a book or research paper that you have written, where would they go to view your work?
https://wietekeholthuijzen.weebly.com/ (Note from Miss Julie: That website is amazing! In particular, check out the link to Wieteke’s blog, “Wing It!” It is full to the brim of all kinds of fascinating information about animals and conservation. The pictures are fantastic, and the short, well written, informative posts are easy for kids and families to read.)
Thank you, Wieteke, for taking the time to talk to us!
If you are interested in any of the books that were mentioned in this interview, here is the information you need to access them.
A Perfect Day for an Albatross by Caren Loebel-Fried can be borrowed from the DeKalb Library by going to this link.
The education guide for A Perfect Day for an Albatross by Cornell University can be found here. The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater is not owned by the DeKalb Library, but we would be happy to fulfill an Inter-library Loan for this title once ILL resumes. Click here to reserve your copy.