8 Questions for Biology Professor Renaud Geslain

8 Questions for Biology Professor Renaud Geslain

Professor Renaud Geslain reviews biological data with research assistants Jensen Tomberlin, Eveline Hok, and Ariel McShane.

Molecular biology may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for College of Charleston Professor Renaud Geslain it is the perfect fit.

Geslain, who is French and holds a doctorate in molecular and cellular biology, has been at the College since 2013. Currently, he is facilitating research with undergraduate students Eveline Hok, Ariel McShane, and Jensen Tomberlin.

Though he is passionate about molecular biology and teaching, Geslain also has many interests outside of his professional field, including movies — he is psyched about this year’s Deadpool — and occasionally going for a ride on his motorcycle. He is also devoted to his family. In fact, his wife, Stephanie Boussert, who holds a doctorate in chemistry, also works at the College.

Learn more about Geslain, his research and hobbies in the following Q&A.

Renaud Geslain in his office among Star Wars action figures and biology diagrams.

Q: You’ve studied and taught in many places — France, Barcelona, and Chicago, to name a few. What brought you to Charleston and the College?

I was looking for a job and I applied to many places and I fell in love with Charleston. Honestly, I was looking for a nice working environment so I was very pleased with the people that I met. Usually when you do interviews for a position as an assistant professor, you do that in January or February, so coming from Chicago and arriving in Charleston, the contrast was amazing. I have a family – a wife and a little boy – and I thought, “This could be the perfect environment,” and I did not hesitate for a second when they made me an offer.

Q: Outside of your work, what else are you passionate about?

I really enjoy being at home and taking care of my family so I cook, sometimes we walk. We take the kids to the playground and to the ocean.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

I used to drive a motorcycle, but I say “used to” because I crashed it. And this is what happens when you ride motorcycles—you’re eventually going to crash…I still love it. Once you start, you can’t really stop. I like to watch movies a lot. I also really like to listen to music. I’m a huge fan of rock ‘n’ roll and heavy metal, big time.

Q: So it looks like you have some very vibrant tattoos — what are they of?

I have a lot of tattoos, none of them mean anything special except the ones on my forearms, my wife’s nickname and my son’s first name. I’m a huge fan of paintings and drawings. I consider tattoos an art form.

Q: On a more serious note: As a native Frenchman, what are your thoughts about the recent Paris attacks?

Geslain demonstrates how to use the microarray hybridizer in his research lab.

I was very surprised by all of the people around me showing support, but at the same time I felt that I didn’t deserve any special attention. Just because I’m French, doesn’t make me a victim. So I didn’t know what to say and people were coming to me and saying, “I’m sorry for what happened” … the honest thing that I can tell you is that American people are extremely supportive.

Q: For those of us who don’t know much about molecular biology, what exactly is a translation protein and how do you study them?

There isn’t anything that we do in the lab that you can see with the naked eye. It’s all molecules interacting. What I study, in particular, is the translation machinery, which is what makes proteins from your DNA. We use a lot of radioactivity, which is used to trace the molecule we make inside a cell.

Q: Your wife also works at the College of Charleston. What is that like?

My wife, Stephanie Boussert, is an instrument manager in the School of Sciences and Mathematics, in the Chemistry Department … To tell you the full story, because I think it’s funny, we met in France and she followed me to Spain then I followed her to Chicago. We worked together at DePaul University where we were both visiting professors and now we are here together, so it’s been 12 years and we’ve always been in the same building. We are very lucky.

Q: How have you adjusted to Charleston? Is it like anything you’ve experienced before?

I grew up in Strasbourg and went to the university there, but it’s nothing like I’ve seen in the US…it’s a cute city. That’s what I like about Charleston; it’s small, cute and it has history. It makes sense that I would end up in a place like this.


This article was written by Aleah Ralph, a junior from Fort Mill, S.C., majoring in communication at the College of Charleston. She is a writing intern for The College Today.