KU biology professor, recording engineer and brewer of beer
By Jillian Baker
Dr. Chris Habeck is an assistant professor of conservation biology. Before Habeck became a professor at KU, he worked as a recording engineer and a beer brewer.
Habeck was unsure of what his career path would be. He never expected to be a professor. “I had more nonacademic interests than academic at the time,” he said.
Growing up, he knew he wanted to be a recording engineer because of his love for creating new things. “I wasn’t good enough to be a rock star,” said Habeck. “The next best thing was to record talented musicians.”
Habeck worked for Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan for six years, from 1993-99. He worked with R&B and rap artists including Wu-Tang Clan, Yoko Ono and her son, Sean Ono Lennon, Missy Elliot, Bob Marley’s children and many others.
Habeck reflected on the times working in NYC.
“For a lot of reasons, I wasn’t happy doing that,” he said. “Some of those people were very nice and respectful, and others were very hard to work with.”
Habeck was employed at Quad Recording Studios when Tupac was shot on location, but he was not there at the time.
He recalled times where rap artists were slapping women unconscious and an artist duct taping recording engineers to a chair to steal the recordings without paying. Due to the violence in the studio, he decided the job was not for him.
Habeck attended a brewing school in Chicago for three months. After he finished the brewing program, he worked in Philadelphia at Liberty Bell Brewery. When they went out of business, he received a call from Dogfish Head Brewery and was offered a job in Lewis, Delaware. “That’s better a hobby than a job,” he said.
He shortly grew tired of brewing the same recipes over and over again. He is now a home-brewer and said, “What makes home brewing exciting is [that] anything goes.”
When Habeck was 30 years old, his wife encouraged him to go back to school. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of New Hampshire in wildlife management. He also has a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, where he studied terrestrial ecology.
“For all the careers I’ve had, I don’t regret any of them,” he said. “I think I finally found my niche.”
Habeck has always had a love for the outdoors, and even met his wife while hiking the Appalachian Trail.
“I’ve always been connected to nature and never thought of it as a hobby,” he said.
Habeck started working at KU in the fall of 2012 with a focus on applied ecology in his academic research.