Mark Slivkoff, PhD, joined the ENMED team at the beginning of 2023, planting roots in Houston, Texas. From the subtropical Belizean climate to the sunny, humid weather in Texas, Slivkoff reminisces on his extravagant, unique journey that led him to teaching the next generation of Physicianeers.
The world traveler and California native is poised to be among the ENMED team, finally returning to the classroom after spending the last five years as an Associate Professor of Physiology, and most recently as the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine. While Slivkoff has enjoyed his time on the leadership side of higher education, he states “my heart belongs in the classroom.” His passion to teach and inspire is what brought him to Houston, but where did his journey begin?
After earning his undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of California, Riverside in ‘92, Slivkoff sold everything that didn’t fit in his large REI backpack, and jumped on a plane to Malawi, Africa.
“After undergrad, I wanted to experience something new, something that was going to really rock my world,” said Slivkoff. Spending nearly four months backpacking alone amongst various African countries and cultures, Slivkoff was not only mesmerized by the culture and history but humbled by the power in learning.
Following his homecoming, Slivkoff chased his dreams ultimately to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to further his education and obtain his PhD in Biology, specifically in comparative animal physiology. As a graduate teaching assistant and amid his laboratory research, Slivkoff was given the opportunity to teach pre-nursing students. The minute he stepped into a teaching role, he fell in love, and decided to pursue his passion and put his physiology research aside after finishing up a short post-doc at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, Arizona.
Once again selling all of his State-side possessions, Slivkoff took a full-time instructor position in San Pedro, Belize, where a new Caribbean medical school had been established. Unfortunately, after just a few years the school had crumbled due to poor management, and he was forced to find a new teaching position. Although he moved to Belize alone, his return to the States included more than a backpack–in Belize, Slivkoff met his Belizean wife of 20 years and also welcomed their daughter in 2004.
For the next 19 years, Dr. Slivkoff embarked on numerous academic endeavors, taking his small family far and wide, while teaching physiology at colleges and universities in the eastern Caribbean (St. Lucia), Oklahoma, north Texas, Arizona, and Idaho. While in Idaho, he then eventually came across the ENMED program–accidentally.
Originally listed as a job reference for another interviewee, Slivkoff couldn’t help but learn more about Texas A&M and the School of Engineering Medicine, and his interest was immediately piqued. “From the intimate class size to the grand faculty, it had it all,” said Slivkoff. In the months following, Slivkoff interviewed with current ENMED faculty and accepted the position as an Instructional Associate Professor.
Slivkoff now finds himself deep in the heart of Texas where he plans to stay for years to come. He wishes to make ENMED his finally academic home. Inspired, eager and enthusiastic, Slivkoff shares his excitement to hit the ground running at the start of the Fall curriculum, “Watching students gain success has always reeled me in, and I’m beyond excited to connect with these Physicianeers.”
When the avid traveler isn’t in the classroom, he enjoys reading, learning about the Mayan culture, golfing, running, spending time with his wife, daughter, and cats, and, of course, traveling. ENMED is lucky to have a dedicated, optimistic, and passionate professor join the family. Welcome home, Dr. Slivkoff!