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Community Spotlight: Robert Mattera

Artist Leah Bank is taking portraits of our beloved BKB community members. Meet Robert Mattera, a native New Yorker, scientist, horticulturist, and explorer. Who wants to collaborate on a science-themed podcast with him?

Robert Mattera, photographed by Leah Bank.
Robert Mattera, photographed by Leah Bank.

Who are you and how did you get to Brooklyn?

I’m Rob. I like to describe myself as a New Yorker, scientist, horticulturist, explorer and friend. I was born and raised in Brooklyn. Shoutout to Bath beach (my neighborhood, haha) My father’s family were immigrants to NYC from Italy (three generations ago) and my mother’s family were immigrants to NYC from Spain (two generations ago) so I’ve been here awhile.

How did you start climbing?

I started climbing a few years ago when my ex-girlfriend, an adrenaline junkie, introduced me to outdoor climbing. I’ve been climbing ever since.


How has climbing changed your life?

Climbing has brought me into an amazing community of open and supportive people. I’ve even made friends bonding over the awesome music (disco anyone?!?) played at BKB.

Climbing in general has allowed me to have a creative outlet and an outlet for relieving stress.

Solving a problem on the wall has so many parallels to solving a problem in real life.

What are your current biggest projects, on and off the wall?

I spent a lot of time traveling in Europe this past summer so I haven’t been climbing much, so on the wall I’m trying to get back into shape. Off the wall, I’ve been trying to figure out my life (hooray for quarter-life crises). After burning myself out working on my masters degree I’ve been trying to just create things for myself. I’m actually looking to collaborate with people on a science themed podcast or website and I’ve been working with friends in home brewing and distilling. I guess ultimately my biggest project off the wall is to learn to find what I’m passionate about and to learn to enjoy the journey.


What inspires you?

There is so much to be inspired about. I’d say I take inspiration from many things: my friends, family and loved ones. But my greatest inspiration definitely comes from two things: New York City and plants. I can’t really describe it but there is an unbelievably special feeling when you really take the time to look at and appreciate NYC. Everything seems possible here. Plants may seem like an odd source of inspiration but to me there is nothing more inspiring than staring at an gigantic ancient tree that has stood for thousands of years. It really puts your life into perspective.

Keep an eye out for more portraits done by Leah Bank and community spotlights on our blog – and you can follow Robert on Instagram here and reach out if you want to collaborate with him on a science-themed podcast!

Want to get involved in the BKB community? Hit us up with your idea, pitch or a note at