Dr. Stefan Pukatzki joined the Department of Biology at CCNY in the Fall 2020 semester. Here is a Q&A he did so our community can get to know him.
Why did you want to move to City College?
My decision to join the faculty of City College came ten years ago when I got a chance to visit the campus and share our work with students. The student's commitment and creativity inspired me. I knew then that I wanted to join this public school with a strong tradition of offering top-tier education to New Yorkers. CCNY's members come from all walks of life. I believe that diversity promotes a multitude of viewpoints and educational approaches, rather than the potentially myopic viewpoint of a specialized institution.
What are your goals for your lab for the next five years?
My laboratory explores why a minority of bacteria evolved mechanisms to harm the host. This is unexpected, because symbiotic strategies to co-exist with the host are abundantly available. This research on host-pathogen interactions allows us to observe a cat-and-mouse game of attack over evolutionary time. In the next five years, we plan to implement these new concepts to develop alternative therapies to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The next five years' primary goal is to get CUNY students excited about microbiology and provide them with the knowledge and skills to excel in their own careers.
You've lived in New York City before. How has the city changed?
When I emigrated to the United States in 1983 as a young student at Columbia, I was exposed to New York City, providing me with new excitement and community sense. The city has changed in so many ways over the last 20+ years. Cherished buildings have vanished, and modern architecture has taken their place. Many of my friends from graduate school are still here, and it has been such a joy to reconnect and catch up. Although a lot has changed, the city's essence has remained the same; I walk down the street, and familiar sounds and scents trigger a memorable response and fill me with joy. As always, the city inspires me and gives me a sense of unity. I am so happy to be part of this community with CUNY and CCNY at its center.
What was your experience like as a student?
I developed my goal to become an experimental scientist during graduate school. Being a graduate student allowed me to build my scientific voice and the skills to apply the scientific method. Graduate school was a magical time. I developed scientifically and met my wife of 25 years.
What are some things you like to do to relax/hobbies?
A stroll in Central Park, cycling, and watching a good movie.
If you could offer your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
To keep believing in yourself and persist when times get tough. Stay close to friends and family.