What is your current job title and responsibilities?
I am a Professor and Associate Director of Academics in the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences in the UCF College of Medicine. I oversee the undergraduate teaching programs for over 2800 undergraduate students majoring in Biomedical Sciences or Biotechnology.
What is your history at UCF and before UCF?
Prior to UCF, I received my Ph.D in Biochemistry from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. I was hired as a Clinical Chemist in the Pathology Department of Orlando Regional Medical Center in 1969 and also taught biochemistry and clinical chemistry in their pathology residency program. In August 1969, I was hired as an Assistant Professor in the Biological Sciences Department at UCF. I was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 1974 and promoted to Full Professor in 1984. In 1990, when the Biological Sciences Department was divided into Biology (Arts and Sciences) and Molecular Biology and Microbiology (COHPA), I helped develop our new undergraduate program in Molecular Biology and Microbiology. When the Molecular Biology and Microbiology Department was merged with the Biomedical Science Center to create the Burnett College of Biomedical Sciences, I became Associate Dean of Academics. With the approval of the UCF COM, we became the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences in the UCF College of Medicine. I now serve as Associate Director of the School.
What is your academic background?
BS in Chemistry from the University of Florida (UF)
Graduate Program in Biochemistry, UF College of Medicine
Transferred to University of Texas Southwestern Medical School where I was awarded a Ph.D. in Biochemistry (minor Microbiology)
What is your favorite UCF memory?
When I told my husband that I would only stay one year in Orlando at Florida Technological University, as it only had 1500 students, was located in the woods in East Orlando, and most especially, because it had no medical school. Forty-six years later, I am still here at what is now the second largest university in the country with an outstanding medical school. I smile each time I recall that conversation and tell that story often.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be?
I would love to have smaller class sizes where I could interact more with my students. I teach some classes with over 400 students and I lament that I cannot get to know most of them as well as I did in those early years at UCF with small class sizes.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Please share your love of science and enthusiasm with your students, as you can make such a difference in their lives.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
It would be a scholarship for a BSBS undergraduate student to attend a medical school or graduate program. I was able to attend graduate school because of fellowships provided by individuals that donated to my UT program. I would like one day to do the same for one of our students.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
Martha Hitt, as she is my daughter’s favorite person associated with UCF. My daughter was part of the President’s Leadership Council and always commented to me that Mrs. Hitt was a very special lady who made her feel so welcome.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
Dr. Rudy Wodzinsky who helped create our undergraduate program and served as a wonderful mentor to me and other young faculty. He provided a model for us to always do what we feel is right and not necessarily politically expedient. I would also thank Dr. Kolattukudy, the Burnetts, and President Hitt who dreamed big and laid the foundation for us to have a medical school at UCF.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
My Ph.D. mentor, Dr. Walter B. Dempsey, who taught me to think analytically and gave me the confidence to pursue a research and teaching career.
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
The medical school graduate biochemistry class at the University of Florida that I received permission to take as a senior undergraduate student. That course stimulated my interest in biochemistry and convinced me to pursue a graduate program in biochemistry.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
Le Coq Au Vin in Orlando
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
Book: Tuesday with Morrie
Favorite Poem: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
What is your favorite vacation destination?
I have been all over the world, but my favorite destination remains New Smyrna Beach where our family spent many summer vacations. We still have videos of our children and their friends that we call “Life at the Beach.”