A Master Student Mastering All

Mark Kreider, a master’s graduate student in the S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources and the Ecology Center, spends most days in the forest researching post-fire forest regeneration ecology. In fact, in July, Kreider was the lead author in the Journal of Forestry, Methods for Distinguishing Aspen Seedlings from Suckers in the Field.

So, what does one do when not trudging through a forest following a wild fire and mastering this particular scientific field? Well for Kreider, it is performing spectacular classical piano. Over the weekend of November 14, he performed at Utah State University’s Russell Wanlass Performance Hall. This was an all-Russian program featuring compositions by Medtner, Scriabi and Rachmanioff.

“Mark inspires superlatives – he manages to achieve excellence in so many things he does,” said his faculty advisor Larissa Yocom. “He’s a great scientist, an amazing piano player and on top of his talents, he’s a stellar human being who is fun to have around.”

Kreider has studied classical piano since the age of five, and has been part of choirs since he was able to read. His undergraduate studies at Goshen College involved both music and science.

“In my mind, music (and the arts broadly) and science share much in common,” Kreider said. “Both require precision and a great attention to detail to express a message clearly. Both also require creativity in order to create work that goes beyond merely being words or notes on a page.”

Kreider believes the piano is an energizing complement to his graduate work in ecology. When he is tired from reading journal articles or writing code to analyze data, he said practicing piano exercises a different part of his brain and leaves him refreshed to work again on research.

“Much like curiously exploring the physical and natural world (what science is), artistic expression is also one of life’s great joys afforded to us as humans,” Kreider said. “I am very grateful to have advisors and mentors here at USU who have supported me in pursuing music in addition to my graduate work, and I look forward to continuing to deepen my musical interests and expression even as I begin a doctorate in ecology at the University of Montana in January 2021.”

Transitioning back and forth from the messy, muddy work of forestry or study to that of a concert pianist might be surprising to some, but Kreider is mastering both fields. In his creativity and his serious work ethic.

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