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Staff Scientist

Thomas McKenna


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I got into science for a pretty simple reason; I was the kid that never stopped asking questions. When most boys are young they want to be a firefighter, or a baseball player, or a superhero, not me, I wanted to study Animal Behavior. After telling my mother my plan she laughed and told me “that’s not real” and that I probably was going to have to be a teacher. Turns out I could do both!
Here at the CSC I get to be a part of Planet Earth & The River of Life Galleries, and the Sports and Health Galleries. Being a lifelong Scientist, and a very athletic person (baseball, track, cross country, football, golf, basketball, jiu jitsu, yoga), I have a blast in the Sports & Health galleries. In the River of Life & Planet Earth galleries I get to do hands on experiments all day based around our Connecticut River without ever falling even a minute behind on the weather!

"Happy is he who gets to know the reasons for things."
Virgil (70-19BCE), Roman poet

In college I majored in Biology and concentrated on Animal Behavior. I have always had a love for sneaky animals, squirrels being the sneakiest of them all!! (according to me that is anyway) So after reading a book on Eastern Gray Squirrels and learning they have been observed doing deceptive behaviors including faking to bury food I immediately was FULL of questions, and needed answers. After researching and discovering that the answers I needed had not been studied yet I jumped on the case! I spent the first six months hanging out with the squirrels, doing all my homework with them every day and never leaving my house without at least two pockets full of peanuts. Once we were “friends” I spent countless hours running my behavioral experiments with the squirrels until I had enough data to prove my hypothesis.
After this research was published in the Academic Journal of Animal Behaviour we were contacted by Animal Planet who expressed interest in filming our research for an episode of The Most Extreme. The experience of recreating our research for Animal Planet cameras and then watching it on TV later was a great acknowledgment of the scientific process starting with questions, and ending with answers. (but every answer gives rise to more questions!!)
After having many different random science jobs, I first started hearing about the Connecticut Science center and I knew that I needed to get involved. Here at the CSC I finally get to work my dream job, being a part in hands-on science AND sharing my love for science with visitors every day!!


Nanoscale phenomena, Technology tools and applications, Environment, Energy, Economics, Equity, Careers in nano, Consumer products, Envisioning the future

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