BA, Mississippi College; MS, University of Southern Mississippi; PhD, Baylor College of Medicine
When I was a child, I was only content when I was outside, in the woods, listening to birds, searching for snakes and bugs and whatever else I might find under a dead log. When I was finally lured back into the house in the evening, my parents were inundated with questions of why and how: “Why are ladybugs red? How do toads make their croaking sound? How are bluebirds blue and red birds red?” As an adult, I am still most happy when I am outside, admiring the biological world, but as a cell biologist and geneticist, I have the opportunity to search for answers to the questions that still come. These days those questions may have more to do with why I can ride my bicycle for miles and miles at a moderate pace, but a short sprint completely exhausts me, or why the prothonotary warbler that nests in yard art on my porch every year chooses that over the nest box I’ve provided for him.
“I teach Histology, Genetics, and Introductory Cell Biology, all of which provide avenues to explore what to me are some of life’s most interesting questions. Every biological question can ultimately be traced to cells, to molecules, to genes or phenomena that influence genes. Introductory Cell Biology allows me the opportunity to share with students the fascinating world of photosynthesis and how my perennial flower garden emerges each year from what looks like nothing to plants six feet tall, within a few months. In Histology, we discuss different muscle types and how Olympic sprinters have the majority of one type while marathoners have a different type, and why these muscle types are structured so beautifully for the functions they perform. Genetics allows it all to make sense—life’s processes, structures, colors, and even behaviors are deeply rooted in our genes and the expression of them. I count myself as fortunate to have the opportunity to continue questioning and to share those questions, and some of the answers, with students.”