Random Renegade: Professor Scott Peat

Every issue, The Rip will be interviewing a random faculty member at Bakersfield College about hopes and goals.


Professor Scott Peat

Joshua Fisher, Reporter

Scott Peat, a Bakersfield College professor of biological sciences, has an adventurous spirit and also participates in triathlons. But when Peat was an undergraduate student in college he did not plan on being a college professor, despite his love for biology and teaching students.

“I thought that maybe I would end up fishing game or work in a lab, or something. When I was in college my goal was just to get a degree, and figure it out from there. Once I got my bachelor’s degree, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, so one of my professors encouraged me to try to do graduate school. So I applied, I got in, and at that point I got my first experience with teaching as a teaching assistant. I got to teach labs at Fresno State. I taught zoology labs and I fell in love with teaching,” said Peat.

When Peat was in college, he took a recreation class with his wife and her sister. In the class, they went mountain biking and whitewater rafting.

For part of that class the teacher asked Peat and the other students to write down three of their life goals on a paper and put them on their refrigerator, so they could see them every day, and see if they could accomplish those goals. Peat’s goals were to get his Ph.D., complete a marathon, and complete an Ironman triathlon. Peat has accomplished the first two, and has completed a half-Ironman triathlon last September and is still training to complete his first Ironman triathlon.

Peat has been in love with biology as long as he can remember.

“My earliest experience with biology was spending the day at my grandparents’ house just collecting insects all day long,” he said. “That’s like one of my first memories. And in high school in my zoology class, I had to do an insect collection and that’s when I totally fell in love with biology. Now it’s part of my everyday life.”

Peat has two children, 9 and 7 years old, and and they do biology stuff all the time. Peat buys mealworms from the store as larvae and brings them home for his children so that they can watch them mature into adult beetles. They also each have insect nets and their own insect collection. Peat also has an insect collection that he studies intensively.

Peat loves animals and has pets. Just last summer he found a baby tortoise while riding on his bike. He took it home, and it has quadrupled in size.

Every time Peat travels with his family, they don’t just stay with the locals. Peat makes it a point to explore and find the organisms of the ecosystem with his family. Peat says that this winter break he is going to Florida to swim with manatees.

While Peat took a trip to Belize with his wife, he went scuba diving and saw a black-tip reef shark that swam up to him literally inches away.

“It was so close to me I had to turn the camera away because I got freaked out, and I missed the good shot,” said Peat. He has also swam with sea lions and many other creatures of the sea.

“One time during a night dive, we went down under and we turned off all our lights. And then we waved our hands around and disturbed the water. There were these bioluminescent organisms … that light up when they were disturbed, so you would see these little flickers of light all over in the ocean water,” said Peat. Peat plans to go swimming with whale sharks next year.

Peat is very passionate when it comes to teaching students, and he has his own particular way of starting the day for his classes. Peat remembers professors that would start the day in his classes as an undergraduate with music. Peat put a new twist on this idea, and he would only play songs in his classes that applied to what was being taught for that day.

“The professors I had would just play songs that the students liked, but the textbook author for the class I teach noted that he would play songs that applied to the class. And I took that and ran with it. It just gets the students thinking,” said Peat. Peat said that he has had students who have emailed him up to three semesters later suggesting new songs that would fit with topics that he teaches throughout the semester.

Peat said that students always seem to be afraid to come see him throughout the semester. But he says “we are just normal people, we like to listen to music, watch Netflix and all the same normal stuff that students like to do.” So he offers free candy for students who come to see him to create an encouraging environment.

Peat loves teaching in California and encourages students to take advantage of living so close to all the different climates, such as mountains, the ocean and the desert, which are all just a couple of hours away.

Despite all of these exploits, Peat doesn’t like to take risks. “I am the absolute opposite; I do not like to take risks,” he said. “I am a very safe person. I live my life very safely … whale shark isn’t a predator. It’s not like he’s going to eat me.”