Salem College Professor named to List of ‘40 Under 40 Professors Who Inspire’

Salem College Professor named to List of ‘40 Under 40 Professors Who Inspire’

April 7, 2015
40 under 40 - Inspiring professor photo of Dr. Laura Watts

Laura Watts, assistant professor of biology at Salem College, has been named on the 2015 list of ‘40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire’ by NerdScholar. 

Watts, 35, taught at Salem College as an adjunct before moving to her full-time appointment in 2012. Biology department chair Traci Porter, who contributed to Watts’ NerdScholar nomination, describes her as “one of the most organized, proactive educators I have encountered in nearly 20 years of undergraduate teaching.”

Watts is passionate about research and regularly includes students in the research process—particularly in her primary area of interest of chemotherapeutic targets in leukemia cells and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). She has also collaborated on research with her colleague, assistant professor of biology Dr. Dane Kuppinger, and Salem College students on the effects of contamination in the Dan River following the highly publicized 2014 coal ash spill.

“Dr. Watts has high expectations for her students, and she is willing to help us achieve them, both in and out of the classroom. She genuinely cares about her students and her thoughtful guidance has inspired me to pursue graduate school,” says Juyoung Shin, a junior at Salem College.

Watts earned a BS from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and a PhD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. She describes her favorite part of teaching as being able to witness the “light bulb moment” when a student fully understands a concept.

NerdScholar’s ‘40 Under 40’ list was curated based upon the nominees’ abilities to captivate and engage students in their classrooms, their campus and community involvement, and their overwhelming passion for their subject matter. The second annual list is sponsored by, a consumer financial website. The NerdScholar higher education branch offers resources that are tailored for college students. The 2015 list can be viewed here.