Professor Spotlight: Robyn Martin
Flagstaff, Az. I was born here.
Blue or gold?
Can’t choose. Together forever.
Flagstaff summer or winter?
Summer. Green aspens, cool nights and mornings, sun, and (hopefully) powerful, magnificent monsoon storms
Do you prefer the spring or fall?
Fall. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and I love hiking in the fall foliage of aspen, oak, and red sumac.
When did you come to NAU & why?
2001–2006 for both undergrad and grad school after a year at U of A, although my family is an NAU family: my grandmother attended NAU when it was a Normal School in the early 1920s and got her teaching certification, my parents both graduated in the 1950s with education degrees, then my mother got her Masters degree in the 1970s here at NAU, and my sister and brother both graduated from NAU, too.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
The flowering crab apple trees next to the library just north of the Creative Arts Complex in springtime. Or Cline Library’s Special Collections and Colorado Plateau Archives. I can lose myself in their photos and stories for hours.
Where’s the best place in Flagstaff to grab a bite to eat?
Many of the local restaurants are wonderful. MPM Pho, Dara Thai, and Martanne’s come to mind, but too many favorites to list, really.
What is your favorite picture on your phone?
My rescue dog Preshy, lying on her back, sleeping, in her favorite living room chair. Or me and my husband in Grand Teton National Park; we just visited for the first time this June.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“The first report is often suspect.” My husband’s Special Ops army commander always told his troops that, and my spouse shares it with me when I worry. It reminds me to think more critically about everything first, before jumping to a conclusion, and to refrain from assuming anything when you hear any bit of information for the first time.
What is one tip every Lumberjack should know?
Get enough sleep and manage your sleep hygiene. Shakespeare, in his play Macbeth, wrote “sleep knits up the raveled sleeve of care”, which is a poetic way of saying that the world always looks better with a night of good sleep behind us.
What do you want your students to walk away with from your class?
Real world knowledge that they can take with them and use the rest of their lives, not just specifically to succeed in my classes, but to use extensively in their post baccalaureate lives. I hope they will continue to be life-long learners and explorers of knowledge.
What is something students might not know about you?
I was a former river guide on the Colorado River in Moab, I have previously been certified as an EMT in Arizona, and I can wiggle my ears independently from one another.
Describe your typical day on campus
Up at 5 a.m., grading and prepping, first: always. Usually campus by mid-morning. Teaching multiple classes, office hours, maybe a meeting, probably some coffee in there somewhere, but I avoid Starbucks, where the lines are crazy-long.
On the weekends where can we expect to find you?
In a hot yoga studio, kayaking on a river, or hiking-running with my dog on the Peaks or the nearby forest.
My favorite thing about working at NAU?
Is it a cliche to say my students? Seriously, they keep me humble, inspire me, and I can’t think of a better group of adults to spend time with, learning and exploring.
What is your favorite summer vacation spot?
In a perfect world, on a multiple day river trip on the San Juan River in Utah or another southwestern river. I’m kind of partial to Hawaii, but we don’t get there often.
Favorite Flagstaff summer activity?
Hiking our Kachina Peaks Wilderness trails, or spending time on a particular little peaceful, private beach right next to Oak Creek, swimming with my dog.
What is the hardest part of teaching? and whats the most rewarding?
Time. I find it difficult, when teaching a subject I’m passionate about (luckily in the Honors College we are encouraged to teach what we are passionate about), to curb my enthusiasm to cover every aspect of the subject in a 3 credit course. It’s difficult sometimes.
The positive feedback from my students: that they will use the knowledge gained in my class for the rest of their lives, and then provide examples of that, or that the course was the most important course they ever took in Honors. That makes it all worthwhile.
Favorite part of being an NAU professor?
I get to apply my creativity, my passion for something that I think is important for us to learn about, to understand, and then share it with students. I facilitate their learning, not just tell them what they need to know. I love that I can use place-based experiential learning to share issues of a particular place (like the Peaks or Grand Canyon or any other spectacular place on the Colorado Plateau) with students, and then allow them to spend time in that actual place — their field “classroom” — and watch them make real-life connections to something they had only just read about.