Most days you can find Aisha Anderson in the lab in Brooks Hall, wearing her blue lab coat and latex gloves. She might be helping a student dial a microscope to peer into a Petri dish, directing a class’ attention to a microorganism, or studying a tank of goldfish for her own capstone research project.
It’s all in a day’s work for Anderson, a senior biochemistry major, lab assistant intern, and biology and chemistry tutor at the university’s Academic Center for Excellence (ACE).
Doing all this while finishing her capstone research project may seem daunting, but not to Anderson. The Alabama native admitted her work load is challenging, but that’s one of the reasons she loves it so much. She thrives on chemistry and has a new-found love for biology, so the pairing of the two fields is something she wants to share with the next generation.
“I always knew I wanted to teach kids, but after I took my first chemistry class, I knew I wanted to teach them science,” Anderson said. “Once I began taking biology classes, I just fell in love with the lab work.”
Anderson’s capstone project focuses on the possibility that a lack of essential proteins in commercial goldfish food could be a cause for the short life-span of pet goldfish. She, like many others, has felt the devastation of making sure a pet goldfish was fed and well cared for, only to have them pass away after just a few days.
Anderson enjoys the work, reading articles, researching her hypothesis and setting up control and experimental groups to test her theory. It’s the kind of work that has the potential to gain the attention of national researchers. If all goes well, she will have the opportunity to present her findings to a national college conference or submit her paper to a scientific journal.
In the past five years, students in Faulkner’s natural and physical science department have participated in the National Forum on Climate Change, as well as presenting research at the Annual Meeting of the Alabama Academy of Science each year. This year nearly a dozen Faulkner students presented at the conference and were invited to attend and present their research findings at the Annual Conference in Clanton, Ohio.
“It’s a challenge, but reading science means gaining knowledge and that is both exciting and interesting,” Anderson said. “Since there is no chemistry track at Faulkner, I pursued biochemistry. The science department is so versatile.”
The science department is designed to provide students with the fundamentals they need while enabling them to choose any number of possible interests such as pre-professional fields like medicine, dentistry, ophthalmology, nutrition and pharmacy; applied fields such as teaching, animal science, agronomy, food science, natural resources management, veterinary medicine and career fields such as anthropology, archaeology, forensic science and mortuary science.
“The small class size allowed me to really get to know my professors well and we created a bond and a relationship that told me they cared about my future. I know I’m well prepared for whatever lies ahead, whether that’s a teaching job or pursuing graduate school,” Anderson said.
Anderson is the founding president of the Faulkner’s Science Association, which morphed into the brand new Sigma Zeta National Science and Mathematics Honor Society and now serves as secretary. As an ACE tutor, she is nationally certified by the National Tutoring Association to tutor science and mathematics. She was also worked in the Faulkner University call center and attended the March for Life event with the campus Pro-life student group.