Texas A&M University—Texarkana welcomes a new assistant professor to the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Dr. Kati Ireland Stoddard, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, joined as a faculty member in September of 2013.
Dr. Stoddard studied as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University and received a BS in Bioenvironmental Science and continued at College Station to gain a MS in Water Management and Hydrological Science. Dr. Stoddard wanted to study environmental science from an early age, and stated, “I chose my major and stayed with it the whole way through.” In 2012, Stoddard earned a PhD in Environmental Science at University of North Texas in Denton, TX and continued to work on campus as an Adjunct Instructor of Environmental Science.
Dr. Stoddard hopes to expand on her PhD research project examining “pharmaceuticals and the environment.” The project was to develop a pharmaceutical take-back program that citizens could attend to dispose of their excess and unwanted pharmaceuticals properly. Stoddard strongly advises people to not flush medications down the drain. To accomplish this research project, Stoddard built the program and worked with an interdisciplinary team, composed of UNT researchers and city of Denton officials. It was the first and only approved “Pharmaceutical Take-Back” event approved by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality.
In the Spring 2014 semester, students may look forward to taking Biology 2, Environmental Science, and Ecology with Dr. Stoddard. Also, an Environmental Science Club is in the works. Dr. Stoddard suggested some activities for the club such as adopting a stretch of road to keep litter free, and collecting and analyzing water samples as part of a water monitoring program. Founding students also proposed the idea of an on-campus garden. The club will be student driven and activities will depend on student interests.
Dr. Stoddard revealed a new university project, the Station for Environmental and Educational Research (SEER) campus. “It is a 350 acre plot of land about 30 minutes away from here, and we are setting up to have undergraduate education and undergraduate research opportunities. There are hayfields and managed forests. The plan is to provide a place where students can have hands-on experiences with environmental science and ecology outside of the classroom.
Researching, studying, and being able to share a passion for Environmental Science is what Dr. Stoddard enjoys most about teaching. She also finds it rewarding when students come back to share their application of lessons learned and make personal lifestyle changes to be more environmentally conscious. The students “drove less or took shorter showers, or turned off the water when they weren’t using it. I live for those little things.”
When not working, Dr. Stoddard enjoys reading leisurely, racing triathlons, and running with her husband. The New Year’s Day Double, a double marathon, is the next race for which she is training. “It’s one of the things I do to unwind”, Stoddard says, “It’s nice because I get to see the sun come up. I come up with my best ideas while I’m running.” Another fun fact is her collection of Macro Microbes (http://www.giantmicrobes.com/us/). These are stuffed animals in the shape of various microbes. Not only do they offer a colorful, decorative aspect to her office, but they also function as visual aids for science lectures.
When asked to give advice, Dr. Stoddard encourages students to “Persevere and try new things” and “don’t be afraid to fail because that is how you learn; if it’s easy, you are not going to learn much from it.” A personal philosophy that Stoddard follows is inspired by a favorite quote by Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because the world needs more people who have come alive.” Dr. Stoddard adds, “Find what makes you happy and incorporate that into your life. You’re going to be a much more successful person if you are happy.”