What does a typical day look like for you?
Responding to emails and getting ready for labs are typically my first tasks. I have three labs this semester and those require a little more preparation. Two of them are four hours long so I need to make sure all of the necessary equipment is on and working before students arrive.
What is the best part of your job?
Interacting with the students. I get to work with students in the lab and on research projects. I also enjoy seeing former students in the hallways and around campus.
Why did you choose Clarke?
I grew up in Dubuque but moved away from Iowa after college. After graduate school, I was doing postdoctoral work in the Philadelphia area. I didn’t like the east coast at all! My sister noticed an ad for a Chemistry professor at Clarke. She suggested I take the then-temporary position so I could be closer to home. That eventually evolved into a full-time position and I am currently in my 18th year at Clarke.
Have you always had the desire to be a professor?
No, I haven't. I have always liked science and knew I wanted to do something in that field, but the idea of being a professor was one that gradually evolved. When I was in graduate school at the University of Michigan, I was a teaching assistant and enjoyed it tremendously. That is when I started to think seriously about teaching.
How has your job changed throughout the years?
I used to supervise our work-study students in the chemistry stock room and manage the inventory. Our department recently hired another person for that job, and that's good but bad. I really miss having that interaction with those students. However, it has given me extra time to start working on some research projects with chemistry majors.
What hasn't changed about your job?
Grading papers! Being a science professor means there are always a lot of lab reports to grade. The weekend is a good time to get caught up on grading those reports.
What benefits have you experienced because of the move to the CSI?
My lab is the most significantly different compared to the other labs. The addition of the extra fume hoods in my lab means that I can have students take care of lab waste disposal and makes them more responsible for the environment. It also allows me to do experiments that I wouldn't have done in the old building because of better access to fume hoods.
What do you say to prospective chemistry students looking to attend Clarke?
Rather than talk a lot, I would take them around and show them. I think the facilities, our students and the people in the department are our best selling points!