Spring on the York College campus

Back to List

Office Space: Dr. Karl Kleiner, Associate Professor of Biology

July 10, 2023
Karl Kleiner in his Office Space

The way a person decorates can say a lot about them. In the Office Space series, we go beyond the résumé and get to know York College faculty and staff members through the objects they like to keep close.

Dr. Karl Kleiner is an Associate Professor of Biology and the advisor for the Environmental Science major. He teaches Ecology, Environmental Science, Botany and Evolutionary Biology, and he conducts research with students on microplastics in local streams. When he is not working on campus, he goes to CrossFit, runs, plays hockey, gardens, and keeps honeybees.

The first thing you might notice upon entering his office is the abundance of items depicting owls. He trained in forestry and entomology, but his childhood passion has been owls. He says Hogwarts did not exist back then, so he couldn’t get a degree in Owlology. Since coming to York College, he has had the opportunity to conduct research on owls. The elements in his office are items that students have given him (a knit hat, a clay sculpture) and photos of students with owls.

OS Karl Plush Toy 1. Plush Tuatara

Dr. Kleiner brought the plush Tuatara back from New Zealand during his second sabbatical. “Tuataras are not lizards, but a distinct lineage on the tree of life. They are the only surviving member of their unique group that existed alongside the dinosaurs 250 million years ago. Once distributed throughout the main islands of New Zealand, they only survive in the wild on islands that are free of the introduced animals that prey on them. The Tuatara is a constant reminder of the impact that humans have on the survival of any given species.”

2. PhotosOS Karl Photos

Tucked away on the bulletin boards behind Dr. Kleiner’s computer monitors are pictures of his wife holding various hawks and owls–what he calls “wife with raptor series.” “Owls were one of our shared interests when we first met. We are both licensed owl banders and work together in the fall banding migrating northern saw-whet owls.”

OS Karl Woven Cloth 3. Weaving

Dr. Kleiner has several elements in his office that reflect his interest in Evolutionary Biology. For his first sabbatical, he visited the Galapagos Islands, considered a mecca for evolutionary biologists because of the relative importance it played in Charles Darwin’s development of the Theory of Natural Selection. “This weaving depicts several iconic species that visitors are likely to see. It was actually purchased at the centuries-old Otavalo market on mainland Ecuador, which is considered the largest indigenous market in Latin America.”

4. Model KayaksOS Karl Kayaks

Dr. Kleiner has been whitewater kayaking for nearly 50 years. “If I had to pick only one recreational activity, this would be it as I love being out on the river with friends.”