Associate Professor (Professor in July!)
School of Life Sciences
Years at UNLV: 14
Immediate Family: Husband, Brian C, and Daughter, Ella
What trait do you most like about yourself?
I am fun-loving and think I am a very approachable person.
What subject did you hate in grade school?
My least favorite subject was P.E. I did love swimming, but did not enjoy the track and field events so much.
Tell us about a woman who’s been a mentor to you.
My undergraduate professor, Dr. R.E. “Liz” Sockett, was energetic, enthusiastic, and fun. In her class, I thought “This is how professors need to be.” She was brilliant and captivated my imagination. She was also an excellent mentor both actively and by example. When I was an undergraduate, she helped me to apply for an eight-week summer program with the Wellcome Trust (a global biomedical research charity based in London); this hands-on research experience in her lab studying bacterial locomotion set me down my path to continue studying biology. Through her guidance, I solidified my desire to conduct scientific research; watching her in the classroom taught me how I wanted to be as an educator. We are still in touch today. I so appreciate the foundational influence she had on my career – I often think about her and talk to my students about her work.
Any advice for young women starting careers on campus?
Find a senior woman to be a mentor. It is so important to have a colleague sounding board, a safe place to vent, and to get advice from someone you trust.
What message do you want to tell young women interested in science?
Women are often viewed as nurturers and educators. While you can be amazing in those roles, you can and should consider research as well. You can be successful at both – they synergize so well. I receive international grants to do my molecular biology research in the bacterial pathogen Shigella, which has implications beyond the classroom. It is important that women are recognized in these less traditional roles. We need to increase diversity in the sciences and serve as role models to future generations of women.
You’re stuck between meetings with 30 minutes to kill on campus. What do you do?
I would take some personal time and grab a coffee, or spend time socializing with my team. It is so important to make time for chitchat as it creates a more relaxed environment and helps students reach out to you if they need to do so.
You just won Megabucks and want to give back to the university. What would you support and why?
I would support funding for undergraduate/graduate research. My philosophy is to embrace students wanting to do research. Lab work requires skills that take time to hone and perfect. Sadly, with the movement toward online labs there are becoming fewer opportunities for students to learn these skills. Fortunately, I am in a position to help. I can provide students with the opportunity to experience and conduct lab bench science while my team and I work on my grant-funded research projects. As such, these educational opportunities are intricately woven with my research program, which contributes to the revenue stream of the university.
Are you a dog person, cat person, or something else?
My first love is dogs. I had them as a child. Currently, however, we have three cats which probably is better suited for my family’s lifestyle. So, it’s a close call these days.
What most excites you for the next year?
I am looking to secure more funding in the next year. I love grant writing. I am also interested to take on some new leadership roles at UNLV. This past year I have been the School of Life Sciences graduate coordinator and I have enjoyed this position tremendously. It is so interesting to get new insight into processes that directly relate to work you have been doing. I hope to use my skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm in these new roles to support the incredible talent that we are bringing to the UNLV campus.