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School ofSciences

SPOTLIGHT Anna Ross

Dr. Anna E. Ross

Title: Professor of Biology.

Length of service at CBU: Dr. Ross has been teaching at CBU since 1987.

Courses regularly taught: Dr. Ross teaches Vertebrate Embryology and lab (Biol 211), Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II and labs (Biol 217-218), Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy and lab (Biol 212), Animal Behavior (Biol 381), and Animal Histology and lab (Biol 414).

Formal Education: Dr. Ross earned an A.B. degree (Magna cum Laude) in Biology and Chemistry from Hope College, Holland, Michigan; completed the course of study for a Ph.D. (Institute of Ecology and Dept. of Zoology) at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia; and earned a Ph.D. in Zoology from Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina.

Background and professional interests: Dr. Ross has always been fascinated by biology and her favorite part of teaching is to share her enthusiasm with her students. Her Mom tells the following story about when she was just learning to talk: "My grandmother pointed out a bird and asked if I could say 'redbird.' In reply, I proclaimed, 'But granma, that's a Cardinal.'" So, from a very early age she was a “biology nerd” and that trait persists to this day.

In college, Dr. Ross took every biology course she could fit into her schedule and attended every available field trip. She knew she wanted to be a biologist and teach at the college level, and that would mean going to graduate school for a doctoral degree. But, she had some trouble deciding on whether ecology, animal behavior, or physiology was the field research field for her. Well, she ended up doing all of those and more during an extended stay in graduate school. She worked on a number of projects... volunteering to census small mammals, inventory vegetation for an environmental impact statement, use skull development to age birds, etc. In the lab where she did her dissertaion research (on social dominance behaviors of wintering sparrows) she also collected and analyzed image intensifier and radar data on bird migration and best of all, went on every possible field trip to net and census birds.

She loved field work and research, but she always knew her first love was teaching. In graduate school she volunteered to cover classes for faculty members (and developed digitized sets of notes and images for them), taught labs in Vertebrate Zoology, Comparative Anatomy, Ornithology, etc., assisted in graduate seminars on behavioral ecology, and trained other graduate teaching assistants for the human A&P course. After receiving her Ph.D., she stayed on at Clemson to help run the "personalized learning assistance lab" for the biology program. (She ran a study lab for students with slide/tape programs keyed to freshman biology course topics.)

When she left Clemson, she took a sabbatical replacement job where she taught Zoology, Developmental Biology, Vertebrate Biology, and Human Ecology. She was fortunate to be able to join an experienced professor in teaching tropical ecology in Costa Rica during intersession. "The more we learn about biology, the more exciting it becomes. In addition, for me, there’s no thrill that can top hearing a student say 'cool!' when they see something for the first time or 'a-ha!' when they understand." So, her current interests focus on working with students and designing course materials to help her students understand and enjoy biology. "And, living in Memphis, I've learned to be a little more tolerant of those who prefer to call the Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis, a 'redbird.'" Also see: vitae.

Service: Dr. Ross designs and maintains web pages for the CBU Biology Department, CBU's chapter of Beta Beta Beta biology honor society , and for Haiti Medical Missions of Memphis. Dr. Ross also takes digital snapshots and designs web pages for CBU activities such as the annual School of Sciences Charity Volleyball games, the President's Reception for Accepted Students, and the Western Collegiate Tennesseee Academy of Sciences Meeting, and CBU Graduation.

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