Anna received her A.A. (Summa Cum Laude) from Central Alabama Community College in 2003. After transferring to UAB as a junior, she received her B.S. (Summa Cum Laude) in Biology with honors and a minor in Chemistry in December 2005. She received her MS in Biology in December 2006 with an overall 4.0 GPA.
Anna worked in the lab of Dr. Stephen Watts. The lab focused on developing nutritionally-complete, formulated feeds for sea urchins. In Europe and Asia, sea urchin gonads are considered a delicacy, and sea urchins must be grown in an aquaculture setting to support the huge demand. Her work was specifically geared toward determining the effect of different energy levels and carbohydrate levels on the growth of juvenile sea urchins.
Shortly after arriving at UAB, Anna was called to the teaching field. More specifically, she wanted to teach at her community college alma mater, Central Alabama. She knew that in order to fulfill that goal that she must get at least a Master’s degree. After exploring her options, she found the 5th year Master’s of Biology program was the most appropriate for her goals. Anna states, “I chose this program, because I could begin working on my Master’s while I was completing my Master’s. I was also impressed with this program, because I was able to teach biology laboratories. Besides just being involved with the biology department, UAB also provided several graduate chemistry courses that were appropriate for my goals.”
While attending UAB, Anna received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award (Master’s) in Biology (2006), Bore the Academic Gonfalon for the School of Natural Science and Mathematics at the December 2006 Commencement Ceremony, 2nd place in the Alabama Academy of Science paper competition (2006), and was nominated for Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Biology (2005).
When asked about her positive experiences at UAB, Anna replied, “One of my most rewarding experiences at UAB has been to see my research influencing others. I feel such a huge sense of accomplishment when my findings are used by others to better understand their data or their research. To see other fellow scientist appreciate your work is very rewarding. The other great reward that I experienced while at UAB was the opportunity to work hands-on with students. It was very rewarding when I was able to see my students succeed.” She also adds, “I worked with so many great people while at UAB but, Dr. Watts was very influential as a researcher, biologist, and teacher. My success at UAB would not have been possible without him. But, I also had the opportunity to work with Qwameca Cole during the summer teaching microbiology labs, and I learned so much from her in such a very short amount of time. She was very influential, because she was genuinely concerned with helping the students learn, and helping them become successful students.”
Anna’s advice to future graduate students is, “chose the career that pleases your heart. My heart was set on teaching, but it is very easy to get distracted along the way. Pursue your true dream accepting that the journey was not meant to be easy.”
In August 2006, Anna was offered a position teaching biology and chemistry at Central Alabama Community College where she is also the head volleyball coach. She plans to continue teaching and coaching at Central Alabama Community College, Alexander City.