Curious Alumni: Hayley Clatterbuck

Photo Credit: Haley Clatterbuck
by Brooke Adam June 24, 2019

Hayley Clatterbuck, 2008 graduate—Assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Rochester and soon to be assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in spring 2020

What sparked your interest in Philosophy?
I fell in love with philosophy because of how difficult it was. My professors exhibited a sense of honesty and rigor that I wanted to emulate. I stayed in philosophy because I was interested in so many other subjects - evolutionary biology, genetics, anthropology, and psychology - and philosophy allowed me to study all of them and gave me the general purpose analytical skills to do so.

What is the value of a philosophy major?
I see philosophy less as a subject matter and more as a methodology that helps us think more clearly and honestly about every question that we face in our academic work and our lives.

How did you get to where you are now in your career and how did your education help?
I attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 2004-2008. I majored in philosophy and took a wide array of courses from other disciplines. I was especially fond of evolutionary biology and debated between applying to graduate schools in philosophy or biology. Then a professor mentioned that there was a field called philosophy of biology, addressing conceptual issues in biology. I got my PhD at the University of Wisconsin with Elliott Sober, one of the foremost experts in philosophy of biology. From there, I got a job at the University of Rochester, where I currently teach philosophy, mostly to science majors. I'll be returning to the University of Wisconsin in the fall to rejoin my old department as an assistant professor.

Were there any other experiences from your time at UNL that helped you get to where you are now?
My education in philosophy at UNL was absolutely first-rate. And clearly I was not alone in that experience, as there are quite a few former undergraduate philosophy majors from UNL who have gone on to become successful philosophy professors! One facet of the department at UNL that helped my career was that I had the opportunity to take most of my classes from professors who were women. Philosophy is a very male-dominated field, and while I of course benefited from great male mentors at UNL, taking courses from professors like Jennifer McKitrick and Reina Hayaki showed me that I might have a place in this field.

Read more about Haley and her work