Getting to Know Your SPA Professors: Callie Rennison

Connecting with your professors can benefit you in the classroom and beyond. Read this series to dive deeper into the minds of our professors and get answers to some fun and interesting questions. We asked professors to reflect on their career, advice for students, non-academic hobbies and interests.

callie and alpaca

Where does your passion/inspiration for your work come from? Is it why you entered your field?

I stumbled into this field. In college, I learned that I had a passion for research methodology and statistics. When I had completed my PhD in Political Science, I found a position being offered at the Department of Justice in the Bureau of Justice Statistics. It was a perfect fit for me and would require me to use a data set I’d never heard of: The National Crime Victimization Survey. Working with these data and trying to answer basic questions I felt the public had about victimization is what inspired much of my work.

 What do you know now that you wished you knew when you were entering grad school?

In some ways, nothing because had I known more about it, I may not have done it. It’s a lot of work. One questions themselves a lot. Thinking about quitting is normal. But in the end, I’m so happy I did it because I can’t imagine how awful my life would be today without the opportunities it has afforded me.  Without it, I would have never moved to DC, or started rock climbing, or moved to Boulder, or married my husband, or started road riding.

What is your favorite quote?

Don’t argue with an idiot, he will bring you to his level and beat you with experience.   Love that!


What is your favorite non-academic reading/interests?

In no order: rock climbing, road riding and birds. I’ve climbed for almost 20 years all over North America. Since moving to Colorado 8 years ago, I took up road riding which I love. I especially like long days in the mountains riding passes. It is one of the only times I can turn my brain off and stop thinking about everything I need to get done! Plus it offers amazing scenery.  And finally, birds. I’ve had Lilac Crowned Amazons for 37 years – the age of my oldest bird Henri. He and his mate Lilac surprised me with 10 babies through their lives and I have 5 of them still with me: Clover, Dayle, Dewey, Grace and Gabbie. I stay in touch with their other siblings. I can’t even put into words how much they mean to me. In addition, I’m also an avid bird watcher and recently traveled to Panama for 10 days of birding. Most people don’t even notice birds which baffles me. It’s like having glittering fascinating jewels all around and never seeing them.

Where have you lived outside of Colorado?

In order: Kansas City, MO, Lincoln, NE, Houston TX, Washington DC area, St. Louis MO, and two multi-month stints in Los Angeles, CA and West Palm Beach, FL.   I’ve really liked most of those places, but like most where I live now: Boulder.


What is your ideal vacation? Or where do you like to travel?

I have a few ideal vacations. First is birding. It may sound lazy, but one must get up early and hike a ways to get to where the birds are.  Recently in Panama, we were up by six am and got back at about 5:30 pm and spent the days in a lot of heat and humidity. It was awesome!  Another ideal is spending six days on the bike riding through the mountains and camping in a tent each night. Yet another is a climbing trip which involves tent camping usually, hiking and then long days climbing. And finally, I love a lounge-chair with a drink in my hand vacation at the beach! I could do that for weeks on end. Hard to pick just one because I love them all.

henriWhat gets you up every morning? What keeps you up at night?

My parrots. All of them. An additional drive is that one of my parrots – Dayle – is special needs having broken his back as a baby. He cannot walk, perch or fly, but he can get around in a specially designed area. He’s twenty-one and very happy.  I like to get up early to make sure he is comfortable and clean. Plus, my birds always have a sweet greeting when I enter their room.

What keeps me up at night is work! I have a bad habit of over-committing and I’m not one to miss deadlines. So I spend a lot of time working and worrying about the work I need to get done!

Categories: Academics, Features

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