Faculty Interview – Tammy Boles


Tell us a little about your background. What brought you to the position you are currently in?

I was actually an undergraduate student at TTU for three years. I met my future husband here, married him and then we moved to Columbia, South Carolina. While he worked on his Ph.D. in chemistry, I finished my B.S. in chemistry and then my M.S. in chemistry at the University of South Carolina. In 1994, we found our way back to Cookeville and I worked in the TTU Water Center as a metals chemist for 10 years. In 2004, I was hired to be a coordinator and academic advisor in what was then the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Extended Education (ISEE). I was able to work on and complete my Ph.D. in Environmental Science-Chemistry in 2009. In 2012, ISEE became the College of Interdisciplinary Studies, and the School of Environmental Studies was created under the college. I applied for a tenure-track position and became the first assistant professor in the School of Environmental Studies in January 2013.

What is your favorite thing about your current position?

I’ve always liked working at the university. I think it keeps me young, and I get exposed to new ideas. I like teaching our students, although I would have never dreamed that I could teach.

On a day-to-day basis, what do your normal tasks look like?

I usually teach classes two days each week, and on the day in between, I hold office hours. I try to keep one to two days open each week for research. My research lab is in Foster Hall, so I usually spend two days each week there.

Are you currently doing any research and do you have opportunities for students to get involved?

Yes, my research is on licit and illicit drugs in wastewater. I currently supervise research for a doctoral student, a master’s student, and five undergraduate students. Of these seven students, two are within the School of Environmental Studies, with the doctoral student in the Environmental Sciences-Chemistry concentration and an undergraduate student in the Environmental Science-Biology option.

What advice would you give students who are preparing to enter the environmental workforce or attend graduate school?

I always encourage students to participate in some type of undergraduate research, whether it’s with me or another professor on campus. I think that gives students valuable experience that sets them apart from other students who apply for graduate school or for a job. I also encourage students to take the internship class, ESS 4900. We’ve had several students take the class, and all of them thought it was beneficial.

Source: https://www.tntech.edu/is/ses/newsletter (Winter 2017 SOES Newsletter)

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