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Oct. 15, 2014

Stephanie Watts: Research, service and teaching

Oct. 15, 2014

Stephanie Watts is a professor of pharmacology and toxicology and assistant dean of The Graduate School. Her laboratory focuses on vascular smooth muscle pharmacology, physiology and function.

I'm in lab before 5 a.m. so my day is filled with any meetings that need to happen or experiments that need to happen. My door really is open to anyone who wants to come and talk.

I serve on an NIH study section so I travel to Washington quite a bit. I really do, I think, the research, service and teaching that a professor is asked to do.

There's a lot of teaching that goes on one-on-one in our lab and in our group we teach one another. It’s not just me teaching people but it's everybody that's in my lab helping one another out.

Being a scientist also means being a mentor and responsible conduct and research is part of mentoring. RCR is helping people understand the right ways to consider authorship, to consider fairness in data handling—those types of things. I realized that I was going to be a better mentor to my students if I knew more about this, so I learned about this. Now I teach this—I’m responsible for the university series in RCR.

I always tell people that kind of knowledge of just doing the right thing in science is just as important as knowing how to use a pipette.

I'm also involved in The Graduate School as the principal investigator of the Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training, or BEST grant, funded by the National Institutes of Health. MSU found out two weeks ago we’re one of just seven different groups to win this award.

We’re training a lot of biomedical Ph.D. students, giving them strength to work in an academic field. However most of them won’t end up in an academic field. They may need to go into industry or they might work in law.

The concern is that we've given them the right skills to be able to go in either direction. The whole idea behind BEST is that we're going to do an experiment to take students that do go through the mechanisms of BEST and students that don't and determine the outcomes of job placement, time to degree, skills learned, confidence and job flexibility to see if, in fact, we've made a difference.