Scientist Spotlight: Jakub Zegar

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This week’s Scientist Spotlight features Jakub Zegar, a soon-to-be environmental scientist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our Scientist Spotlight series features STEM professionals who volunteer in our pen pal program, Letters to a Pre-Scientist.

Jakub is an undergraduate student majoring in environmental science with minors in geology and STEM education at Drexel University. Drexel offers a five year experiential program that allows students to complete course work while completing work experiences that are in the same field. Jakub took advantage of this program which has allowed him to have several real-life working experiences outside of the classroom during his undergraduate career.

During his dual course work and working experience at Drexel, Jakub has had the opportunity to travel to several research areas both in the United States, and abroad. Most of Jakub’s work experience involves working outside tracking, sampling and saving amphibians and reptiles.

Most recently, Jakub spent five months on a military base in the midwest to track at-risk turtles and rattlesnakes using radio telemetry.

Jakub shared more about himself and his experiences with us:

What is the best or coolest part about your job?

The best or coolest part about my job is the excitement and adrenaline when searching for critters! Whether the project I am working on focuses on salamanders, frogs, snakes, or turtles, I am always super excited to encounter one of these beautiful creatures!

How would you describe the best day ever?

The best day ever is waking up at 6 or 7am, grabbing a snack for breakfast, putting on my hiking boots, driving to a field site, and beginning the search for critters! There is nothing better than a day spent in the field collecting data. It could be freezing cold, intensely hot, or raining heavily, it is still such a treat to do such work. I have even worked in the snow!

What is the number one key to success in your field?

Passion and dedication. Frankly, I have always struggled with my academics, but the opportunities that I have been afforded have largely been due to the excitement and passion that I bring to the table. In fact, my last employers even told me that during the interview process, they dubbed me, ‘Mr. Enthusiastic’. I think if you are not passionate about what you do, you may be in the wrong line of work. Passion makes it easy and enjoyable to do what I do – it isn’t a drag. I still get excited to see an animal that I have seen dozens of times!


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