Conservation Biologist Nolan Schillerstrom. ©Camilla Cerea

Nolan is originally from:

I grew up in the Midwest, in a suburb of Chicago.

Favorite ecosystem and animal:

In my first decade in South Carolina, I spent most of my time implementing conservation programs for shorebirds and seabirds. Because of that, my favorite ecosystem by far is the beach. Most beach creatures are often overlooked, but there are so many critters hiding right under your feet, flying overhead, fighting to raise families, and exhibiting some really neat behavior if you take a few extra moments to stop and observe. It’s difficult to pick a favorite animal, but among the rotating list of favorites include Wilson’s Plover, Least Tern, and Marsh Wren. Each of these coastal bird species is on the tinier side and easily considered the underdog, but all are spunky, proud, resourceful, and clever in their own way.

Favorite thing to do when not working:

During the pandemic, I re-discovered my love for fitness. As a college tennis player, fitness has always been an important part of my life, but then I tore my ACL during a skiing accident in 2014, and then again 4 years later. My comeback to fitness after my second knee surgery included a friend introducing me to his crossfit gym. Today, after work and on the weekends, you can probably find me working out with friends, coaching, occasionally competing, and running my USA Weightlifting barbell club called “Wild Barbell Club.”

Role model:

My parents are absolutely my role models. Both my mom and dad are such amazing examples of finding balance in life while enjoying every step along the way. I come from a long line of “I can probably figure this out” kind of people so getting ourselves in over our heads and then navigating our way through with a smile on comes with that territory. As an example of this, all while raising my brother and I and maintaining full time careers, my parents were both constantly doing DIY projects in the house while I grew up and still do to this day. My father, his father, and his father’s father were all woodworkers, and my mother was a graphic designer and epic creative, so they always had their minds (and hands) full with the next project.

When Nolan was little, he wanted to be:

When I was little, I wanted to be a photojournalist. From the ages of 6 to 12ish, my neighborhood friends and I would shoot make-believe monster documentaries! We’d sneak up on each other with a camera, play out goofy scenes, and then edit it on Windows Movie Maker. Unfortunately (and somewhat fortunately) this was before “cloud” storage and the computer where we saved everything is probably in a landfill somewhere.

Favorite book:

When I read for leisure, I am a fan of fantasy and sci-fi stories. My favorites in those categories are now fairly well-known books: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Some formative books in the realm of conservation biology that I was introduced to in undergrad were The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins and Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin.

What that instantly puts Nolan in a good mood:

I love a lot of different genres of music, but the song that always puts me in a good mood is San Fransisco Street by Sun Rai. Give it a listen the next time you’re in your car. I promise you’ll want to roll your windows down and turn the music up. If I had to pick a single artist, John Mayer is very near the top of my favorites list.

If Nolan could be a superhero, his superpower would be:

It would be pretty cool to be able to fly.

Pets:

I have an Australian Shepherd and a Maine Coon cat at home! They are my and my wife’s fur babies.

The aforementioned fur babies.

Special skill or passion:

I used to gig around Charleston, SC as a singer-songwriter with my guitar and used to perform weekly with jazz groups in the Midwest.

Most memorable experiences in nature:

A “good look” at a bird is a thrill I chase every now and then. It’s fun to see the flit of a kinglet through the branches, but it’s a whole other grand experience to see one perched for a few seconds around eye level with the sun bouncing off its ruby crown! One experience like this that I’ll never forget was in 2017 on the Great Salt Lake, Utah when I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to see hundreds of thousands of phalaropes feeding on brine flies on the lake’s surface during sunset. That was definitely a “good look!”

Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) on the Great Salt Lake. ©Nolan Schillerstrom

Favorite food to eat or make:

I have a running list of the best burgers in town and while it’s not my absolute favorite dish perse, I am always up for the ease, familiarity, and deliciousness of a good burger.

Further Reading

Meet Assistant Construction Project Team Leader Bryan Sullivan
Meet Conservation Biologist Nolan Schillerstrom
Get to know Allyson Gibson, Biohabitats Extern
Get to Know Graphic Designer Joey Marshall
Evolution: A New Leadership Team for Biohabitats

More From This Author

E+D Podcast with Keith Bowers: The state of ecology and design in landscape architecture
Meet Senior Engineer Scott Wallace
Get to know Allyson Gibson, Biohabitats Extern
Get to Know Water Resources Engineer Sydney Salzwedel
Get to know Water Resources Engineer Nate Wadley