September 27, 2013
Chemistry and music mix for SU professorWhile many students at Susquehanna know Mark Sarisky as the new chemistry professor on campus, they may not know that for the past 25 years he has had a successful career recording songs and albums and is a Grammy nominee.
Before Sarisky began his work in the music industry, he studied chemistry as an undergraduate student at Wilkes College in Wilkes-Barre.
During his time at Wilkes, Sarisky held a position at the Goddard Space Center in Washington, D.C., as a paid intern for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and after graduating, he received a full time position as a chemist there.
He began practicing music with colleagues while at NASA until he left to pursue graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania in 1988. He studied physical chemistry and participated in band.
"I really got into the recording side of things in grad school," Sarisky said.
In fact, during his years as a graduate student, Sarisky was asked to record for several successful artists, and in 1994, he became a partner at Third Story Recording, a recording studio in Philadelphia.
According to Sarisky, his education in chemistry allowed him to become more successful in the music industry as he studied statistics and mathematics and learned to code, write software and use the latest technology.
He said that these skills became valuable assets for him in beginning his career in recording because they allowed him to meet several artists whose equipment he was asked to repair.
One such artist was King Britt, an American producer and disc jockey, whom Sarisky met and began recording for.
Through recording with Britt, Sarisky received his first Grammy nomination in 1997.
He also worked with Donna Lewis, Annie Lenox and Sheryl Crow.
Sarisky remained a partner at Third Story Recording for 10 years until he decided to sell his share of the business to his partner and move to Austin, Texas.
He obtained a position at the University of Texas as the director of recording activities and audio recording technology and maintained this position for six years.
While at the University of Texas, he was a member of the committee of audio education and, according to Sarisky, helped to create the music recording program at the school, which had previously been a largely performance-based institution.
It was at the University of Texas that Sarisky received his second nomination for a Grammy for the "Best Chamber Music Recording" of the Miru Quartet in 2010.
He then moved on to become a program director at the Art Institute of Austin, and he was nominated for a Grammy for the third time in 2010 for "Best Musical Show Album" for his recording of one of Duke Ellington's folk operas.
Now, Sarisky is teaching chemistry at Susquehanna while still maintaining a successful career in the music industry.
According to Sarisky, his decision to move back east was influenced by his recent leg injuries and the desire to remain near family in Danville, where he grew up.
"I have not been a practicing chemist for 25 years, [but] nothing has really changed on a fundamental level," Sarisky said.
He is still able to teach what he learned during his years in undergraduate and graduate school, and he noted that he especially enjoys teaching non-science majors and giving them a taste of a different field of study.
Now that he has returned to the east coast, Sarisky said, "Old clients are finding me."
The artists who he has worked with in the past are contacting him again, and Sarisky accounted for his successful establishment of relationships with artists by stating that he shares common interests with them.
"It's about working with the artists and trying to bring the best out of what they're doing," he said.
Though now a chemistry professor, music is still very much a part of Sarisky's life. He will continue his work of recording music and teaching chemistry.
"My life has been very interesting and exciting for me," Sarisky said. "I've had a life in music; a life in pop culture."
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