Dr. Joanne Kluessendorf
A career built on a series of exciting moments
“The first came in the late 1970’s when I was assisting my husband, Don Mikulic, with geological fieldwork in a Waukesha stone quarry. I uncovered an exceptional fossil that was about 420 million years old! It lived in Wisconsin back when much of North America was covered by warm tropical seas. I was astonished by the delicate preservation because it is very difficult to find fossils of animals which have no hard parts. I realized I was the first human to ever look at this creature and perhaps the first vertebrate to do so.”
A second exciting moment came when Joanne was named the founding Director of the brand new Weis Earth Science Museum (WESM) at UW Fox. “Being able to design a museum that focused on the geology of Wisconsin was a dream come true for me,” explains Joanne.
As the Weis Earth Science Museum Director Joanne’s days are filled with diverse activities including the promotion of the WESM to the public, developing programs and new exhibits, and maintaining her scientific credibility in order for the museum to be respected within the professional community.
To Joanne being WESM Director is the confluence of her passion for Wisconsin’s geology, story telling, artistic, literary, and historical skills in creating a museum full of displays and exhibits to tell a geological story—a story millions of years in the making! Joanne jokes that every rock has a story and she’s got a million of them. “Besides what’s more exciting that dinosaurs, earthquakes, and volcanoes?”
Maybe being named a Fellow in the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, & Letters?
“That was truly a great honor,” states Joanne. In August Joanne joined an extraordinary group of men and women who were similarly honored for their qualities of judgment, perceptiveness and knowledge of how literature, art and science contribute to the cultural life and welfare of Wisconsin.
“I pretty much live by the motto, “Nothing is worth more than this day—Make the most of it,” says Joanne. With a Goethe inspired motto like that and Joanne’s drive, more exciting moments lie ahead!
- BS, Geology, University of Illinois at Urbana--Champaign
- PhD, Geology, University of Illinois at Urbana--Champaign
- Currently: Museum Director Weis Earth Science Museum & Adjunct Professor UWC Geology/Geography
- Favorite Book: Guns, Germs, and Stee
- Currently reading: What Would Jefferson Do?
- 2005 Fellow Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
- Began work at UW Fox Valley in January 2001
- Member of many professional organizations
- Board member for Quarry Quest, Bubolz Nature Center & Girl Scouts of the Fox Valley Region