Faculty Spotlight Series – Professor Matt Gingo

Name: Matt Gingo
Position: Associate Professor – Psychology
Years at Wheaton: 7
Hometown: Bennington, VT
Education: University of California, Berkeley

Where is your favorite spot to work from home?
I like to spread out – so the best place for me to work at home is the dining room table. Unfortunately, this means my most productive hours are usually before breakfast, when the rest of the house wakes up.

What one thing do you miss most from campus?
I miss the intellectual life of the campus. All of the unscripted conversations about heady topics that I have as I walk out of class or eat lunch in Chase are tough to replace. I miss overhearing conversations about Socrates and star-eating black holes while ordering coffee in Balfour. I miss seeing my colleagues and students in the halls and hearing about their projects and new publications. There’s something about the atmosphere that I find really inspiring.

What are you currently watching on TV or reading?
I just reread Invisible Man (Ellison), which is a great book that I would certainly recommend. I’ve also been reading some Tom Robbins books (Skinny Legs; and Fierce Invalids) that I never got around to and that have been sitting on my desk for a decade. He has a way of describing people that is simply unmatched. Kendi’s book, Stamped from the Beginning, just arrived, so that’s next on my list.

What is the worst thing about being in quarantine?
The timing was rough. The quarantine completely shredded my schedule and my to-do list for the spring. It also constrained the ways that I could support students and friends in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. It was hard to balance the competing needs of social distancing and social connecting.

What is the best thing about being in quarantine?
I spent the spring in the mountains of Vermont, and made a lot of maple syrup.

What is your favorite Wheaton memory?
I have many, but a couple stand out: 1. Walking with a group of students through a maze of cliff-hanging temples and underground passageways in the Tiger’s Nest in the Himalayas of Bhutan was life changing and a moment I will never forget. 2. Hearing Tessa Deluca, who sat in the front row of Psy 101 and never spoke a word, sing for the first time. She absolutely blew the doors off Weber Theatre and in doing so changed the way I think about students in and outside the classroom. 3. The time I sat in on Kathy Morgan’s FYS class, and we spent the entire class in silent awe while passing around owls, hawks, and falcons.

What is your favorite event to attend at Wheaton College?
I was introduced to the Trybe Gala and the Dance Co performances a few years ago by students who were working in my lab. I love those shows, and I don’t miss them. They are definitely a highlight of the semester for me.

What is your favorite place on the Wheaton College campus?
I like standing at the top of the library steps looking out over the Dimple and central quad. It’s a quintessential college vista that I always try to pause and appreciate.

What do you enjoy outside of work?
I can never get enough fly fishing or sailing.

What is your favorite movie?
The Big Lebowski.

What is your favorite vacation spot?
I have two: My family has a little cabin on a lake in Maine that we’ve been going to for generations. It is unmatched in terms of relaxation. And, Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite, which is unmatched in terms of adventure.

Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Cindy Lou Who

Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could play the drums well enough to be in a rock band that could legitimately cover Jimi Hendrix songs. That, or double-dutch jump rope.

If you weren’t teaching your current discipline what would you teach?
I taught a fair amount of first grade this spring. I’m not saying that I was any good at it – but I did find it pretty rewarding. If such a job exists, I would teach first grade science at an all outdoor school.