About

Martin and Angie along the river in Prato, Italy

Martin and Angie along the river in Prato, Italy

I am many different things, depending on the hour of the day, but am also always one thing … me!  I am passionate about the outdoors, spending as much time as I can “away from civilization”.  I also love introducing people to the outdoors and the importance of our being connected to it on a regular basis.  I am passionate about using the riches I’ve been gifted to help others.  But I don’t necessarily like the word service, particularly when it comes from a mental model of helping those who are in some way less than we are.  Instead, I continue to grow in my understanding that all of us have unique blind spots and disparately need diversity in our lives to bring together teams that can expose the broader picture of what is really going on.  I have a talent for technology and often act as a toolsmith to help build protocols and procedures using technology to enable communities to meet their goals.  And I am a man of faith who is always trying to find ways to meet the real Jesus and not just the one we’ve built upon a western European image.

My Background

After my birth in Michigan early in 1964, I wandered aimlessly through my elementary and junior high schools. I did manage to win a few science awards in 7th and 8th grade. The budding hacker in me also emerged about that time, as my junior high had a teletype connected to a mainframe. I was even invited by Whirlpool to exhibit a swell basic program I wrote which converted measurements into board feet. A relatively uneventful tenure at Benton Harbor High School (’82 grad) was followed by an even more uneventful stay at Lake Michigan Junior College, mostly in their music department.

To prevent being enlisted into the work force, I then went on to earn a B.A. in Psychology at Anderson University.  At the encouragement of my most excellent undergraduate advisor, Dr. Curt Leech, I opted for another 6 years of study, gaining both a M.S. and Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience and Biopsychology at Rutgers University, studying under the expert tutelage of Dr. Mark West. The last stop in my whirlwind tour of research academia took me to the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Gabriel.

In 1995 I moved on to become Manager of Systems Services for Prairienet, the Community Information Network for Central Illinois. Being the oldest of three, I grew up showing others how much I knew and how much they needed to learn.  So I guess it was natural that I began teaching courses at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.  And in keeping with my research background, I also managed the computer systems for the Information Systems Research Lab at GSLIS. I was also director of Prairienet for a year, but decided enough was enough and stepped back to focus on systems work and teaching.  When IT support within GSLIS was merged, I became the User Services Coordinator for the Office of IT and Research at GSLIS.

In 2008 when IT staff was again reorganized, I left the IT support group in GSLIS and returned to my research roots as a Senior Research Scientist within the Community Informatics Initiative.  My research interests include ways to develop and effectively use information and communication technologies as a tool for individual and community development and advocacy; improving ways to equip public collaborative spaces; and working with community members as citizen scientist collaborators.  I also am deeply interested in the Scholarship of Engagement, finding new ways to integrate research, teaching, and service by building Community of Inquiry teams comprised of students, researchers, and community members.  I was extremely honored to have been recognized as the Library Journal Magazine 2011 Teacher of the Year, and award for which I was nominated by my students.  My official curriculum vitae is available for those wanting to see a list of my formal work experiences, education, and publications.

I’ve been married to my wonderful wife Angie for 22 most excellent years now. I have two well groomed children, Eric (22 yrs. old) and Joey (18 yrs. old). I enjoy woodworking and have built most of the nice furniture we have in our house. We attend Twin City Bible Church. I love backpacking, and get out as often as I can, whether with the scouts, with my family, or on my own.  Some of my favorite places to go include:

  • Forest Glen County Preserve near Westwood, IL
  • Isle Royale National Park
  • Smokey Mountains National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park

Deciding that wasn’t enough insanity, my wife and I are slowly becoming urban farmers.  We’ve started a blog to record our adventures in the side-yard farm and the kitchen with our produce, which you can find at http://wolskeurbanfarm.wordpress.com.

I’ve also been remodeling our house with my wife. Our latest remodel was to replace the deck boards on our back deck and integrate a pergola in the process. Past projects have included:

  • take down some cabinets in the kitchen, put in recessed lighting instead of track lighting, and upgrade the trim;
  • gutting and rebuilding our basement bathroom;
  • gutting and then rebuilding our kitchen;
  • building a front deck and refinishing the back deck;
  • reroofing the house;
  • rewiring the house, adding network and cable jacks throughout;
  • residing the house;
  • building an attached garage (20×36, leaving enough space for a full woodshop in back);
  • gutting and rebuilding the upstairs bathroom;
  • gutting and rebuilding our basement bathroom again (so many lessons have been learned since the first time around :-O); and
  • building some built-in cabinets next to the upstairs bathroom.

Lately I’ve begun taking youth and adults from our church to East St. Louis as part of our outreach ministries.  Throw in an occasional golf game, fishing trip, or card game, and you now know the extent of my life.   I’ve recently been putting pictures up on Flickr if you want to see action shots from the real world.

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