Dr. Watts is a Texas native who moved to Winston-Salem in 2008 to work as a postdoctoral researcher at the Wake Forest Health Sciences Cancer Center. Shortly after finishing her postdoctoral stint, she began teaching as an adjunct at Salem College and immediately felt at home. She joined the full-time faculty in 2012 and now serves both the Biology and Biochemistry Departments.
Dr. Watts is involved in several research projects. Her primary line of research focuses on leukemia. More recently, she has expanded her research interests to include assessing the impact of coal ash contaminants on soil microbes. Furthermore, she has recently been accepted as an investigator in the Small World Initiative research project, an “innovative program that encourages students to pursue careers in science while addressing a worldwide health threat – the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics.”
In addition to teaching courses, including Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, and Immunology, Dr. Watts also serves as the pre-health advisor at Salem College. Her advice to a student considering a career in science or medicine is to seek out every opportunity to either shadow, intern, or participate in their field of interest. Classroom learning is crucial for laying a foundation of understanding in science. But when choosing a career, there is no substitute for getting into a lab or clinic and seeing how the information that is learned in the classroom can and should be applied. It is imperative to have a practical and realistic understanding of any career, and this only comes from experiencing it firsthand.
She sees many benefits to choosing a women’s college, including the commitment of faculty to women’s education and the flexibility of offering a diverse curriculum that meets the needs of her students. Furthermore, the smaller classroom sizes at Salem allow students to interact with their instructors on a one-on-one basis, get more thorough feed-back from assignments, and participate in more discussion-based learning. These interactions can be imperative, not only to the learning process itself, but also when providing personalized recommendation once a student graduates from Salem.
Favorite Books: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean.