by: CHESANIE BRANTLEY/Editor-in-Chief
There is a passion that drives biologists that most people never see.
Megan Keith, instructor of biology at South Plains College, possesses that deep passion for her field. She went to school in Sweetwater and later attended South Plains College for a year before transferring to Texas Tech University to get her bachelor’s degree. She recently earned her PHD from Tech and will walk the stage in December to receive her diploma.
“I originally did not want to do that (teach Biology),” said Keith. “I wanted to work at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), and at Tech they have teaching assistantships where graduate students teach labs.”
Keith said she was in her second year of graduate school at Tech when she enrolled in a biology for majors course. This is where she began her student assistantship. The labs were very structured, but the student assistants had freedom in the types of examples they wanted to use and how the information was presented. They could present the information any way they liked, as long as they got the point across to the students.
“That’s how it became fun for me,” recalls Keith. “I really started to enjoy it and started to think I might want to do it.”
During this time, Keith found a professor who was doing research she was interested in and began working on her own project that they eventually expanded into her dissertation. Her research was in Mammalogy, the study of mammals. But more specifically, it was systematic research. She studied the relationship between rodents. The group of rodents was one that could be found from North America to Mexico.
“I think doing field work is one of the perks of being a biologist,” Keith says. “You get to go out and actually catch these things, see them in the wild.”
The best part of teaching for Keith is when she is able to teach someone something he or she either never thought of before or did not know existed in our world. She said that she tries to find things that intrigue her students, especially the students who are not science majors, because it is so much harder to get them interested.
“When you find something that they can relate to, it makes it so much better, and it actually gets them excited, and it leads to really good discussions,” Keith said.
According to Keith, when she begins lecturing about how the human body works, students start getting excited. They learn how the blood pumps through their body, and her students begin getting interested. She also said another interesting topic is the animal kingdom and all the strange things involved in that.
This semester is Keith’s first as an instructor at SPC. She knew about the college because she attended it earlier. When she decided to stay in this area, she began looking for job listings.
“I found the job posting, and I applied and got it,” said Keith. She also said that her first semester has been a little hectic, just because she is starting everything from scratch. But it has been a great three weeks so far, Keith adds.
Keith said that she thinks one of the most important things for students is to go out and experience as many things as possible and ask questions. She said that is how someone really finds out what he or she is interested in.
“Try a lot of different things, because there are so many fields or careers that you can choose,” Keith said.
Since being in the field of biology, Keith has also had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala twice to do student workshops.
“I never thought I would go to Guatemala,” said Keith. “But if you get into these programs, get involved in research and really start connecting with people, things like that come up and you get to do really cool things.”