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President of the Tennessee Academy of Science for 2003.

I am honored to have this opportunity to serve as the new president of the Tennessee Academy of Science (TAS). Looking back, I can see that many members of the Academy have influenced me, and it only seems right to take my turn in giving back to the organization. So ill keeping with tradition, I'll describe my circuitous path to this point.

I was born in Nashville, Tennessee, making me a rarity, a native Nashvillian. I grew up in Nashville and attended Hume Fogg Technical and Vocational High School. Upon graduation, I planned to attend a diploma-nursing program in Memphis and enter the health care field as a registered nurse--something you could do in those days. Those plans changed when my father became ill and I looked to continue my education closer to home.

I headed for Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in the fall of 1971. The first semester was a tough one. I wasn't prepared academically, and my father died that September. However, I discovered an interest in biology that was stimulated by contact with members of the biology faculty, and I developed a passion for microscopic invertebrates. I graduated with a Bach elor of Science degree in Biology in 1975. Although the department chair, Dr. John Patten, tried to persuade me to continue my education. I thought I was ready to get out and earn a living. Now, as I look at the names of TAS members and officers from previous years, I can't help but notice how many of them stood before me in classrooms at MTSU.

I found a position ill a research laboratory at Vanderbilt and there learned the hard truth about research--funding made (and still makes) this particular world "go-round". After several years the laboratory in which I was employed lost its funding and was incorporated into one of the clinical laboratories. This was bad news for me because I lacked the licensure that would allow me to perform testing in a clinical laboratory. My colleagues con vinced me to enter the medical technology program at Vanderbilt. In 1978 I completed the program and obtained both state licensure and certification by the American Society of Clinical Pathology as a medical technologist.

As a medical technologist I had many wonderful experiences. I worked with the Appalachian Student Health Coalition, part of the Center for Health Services at Vanderbilt University. It was there I first heard of Dr. David Wilson and his environmental action work. I also was employed in the clinical laboratories at Vanderbilt, first in the immunohematology laboratory and later in the microbiology laboratory. From Vanderbilt's clinical micro biology laboratory, I moved to the State of Tennessee microbiology reference laboratory.

I left the bench in 1984 to take on a new challenge. Receiving my license as a general laboratory supervisor, I began work as a medical technologist consultant for the State of Tennessee. In this position I reviewed the results of proficiency testing performed by all clinical laboratories in the state, conducted state and Health Care Finance Administration (HCFA) inspections of clinical laboratories, participated in the occasional Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare validation survey for HCFA, and investigated personnel and facility complaints related to testing performed in clinical laboratories in the state. Then in 1988, I began to think about how far I had strayed from my love of invertebrate zoology.

First with a single course, then leaving my position with Laboratory Licensing, to begin graduate school full-time at MTSU, I began the journey back to microscopic invertebrates. I eventually settled on a thesis project that would allow me to focus on one group, tardigrades. I was introduced to Dr. Diane Nelson by Dr. Clay Chandler, and began to study this fascinating group of animals. This fascination probably was fueled by the discovery of two new species of tardigrades found on Short Mountain in Cannon County and a trip to England to present this finding. I continue to be fascinated by tardigrades and I still make regular trips eastward to visit Diane Nelson. My most recent trip found us in the lab identifying tardigrades from the Smoky Mountains National Park, collected as part of the current All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory project.

Earning a Master of Science degree in Biology from MTSU in 1993. I worked briefly in the Department of Air Pollution Control and taught as an adjunct at MTSU, Trevecca, and Columbia State Community College. The teaching "bug" was acquired while I was a Graduate Teaching Assistant at MTSU. I have found that it's a difficult "bug" to shake.

I joined the faculty of Columbia State Community College in 1996 and am currently an assistant professor of biology. I was coordinator of the biology department from 1997 until 2002. I was acting director of the medical laboratory technician program during the academic year 2001 2002, and taught immunohematology courses in that program. 1 have served on the cmTiculum committee for the college and served as chair of that committee. While I am primarily involved in teaching microbiology, I also am fortunate in having the chance to teach an introduction to biology course. It is in these overview courses that I feel I have an opportunity to open up a new world for my students. I want them to see that the courses have implications outside the classroom and that what they learn can benefit them in unexpected ways.

As a faculty member, my days are filled not only with advising (most challenging was the student who wanted to train exotic animals for television--in case you're wondering there's a program at Moorpark College right outside Los Angeles), lectures, laboratories, and preparation for both. Other activities have included finding a home for fish (very large fish that were eventually placed at Grassmere), identification of everything from spiders to fungi (although many times I may refer these seekers to one of you), or--how could I forget--attending a committee meeting.

I look forward to the coming year and the 2003 annual Academy meeting. The annual meeting has something for all of us, from the community college student to the retired educator (do we ever truly retire?). It is a place where we can gather and find others who share our academic interests, present research, and discuss the changes occurring in the fields of our discipline and education. Perhaps, if we're lucky, we will come away with not only a renewed commitment to pass along knowledge, but also the excitement of acquiring that knowledge--truly an experience from which we all can benefit.
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Publication:Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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