Dr. Lisa Blue started out her undergraduate career as a pre-med major – it was a year before she “bumped” into her first chemistry class and wanted to take on the challenge, however, she was unsure what she wanted to do with the subject. After completing a series of internships with Kraft, DAYCO, and the City of Springfield, Missouri, she “fell in love with environmental chemistry and the analysis of environmental samples - it really brought home the impact of what we do on the surface of this Earth and how it affects all of our resources.” Dr. Blue received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with minors in physics and math from Missouri State University (Southwest Missouri State at the time). She also received her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Kentucky and also did postdoctoral research working with radioactive uranium samples and their speciation and mobility in the environment at Washington University in Saint Louis.
Currently, Dr. Blue teaches General Chemistry II, General Chemistry II Honors, General Chemistry II Workshop, and Analytical Chemistry. She also seeks to implement new technologies in the classroom – “Anytime there’s something I can beta test, I’m all over that” she said – she enjoys being a “guinea pig.” As one of the first to implement iClicker by Reef, Sapling, and ExamSoft, Dr. Blue is extremely active in testing out new teaching methods and works to help other professors recognize the power of these tools and apply them in their own classrooms. “What I’m after is making sure that we’re meeting students where they’re at, they use technology. We need to embrace the technology and we need to recognize how the face of our student body has changed. Even in just the five years that I’ve been here, I’ve seen big changes. The first time a student held up their cellphone and took a picture of a slide it was just – it was – that was an “aha” moment for me.”
Dr. Blue’s proudest moments are when her students succeed. “Every time I have that struggling student in a semester and they’re crashing and burning, but they come to me – they get the help – and they finally have that “aha” moment – it’s usually about two-thirds to three-fourths of the way through the semester, but they finally get it and they rally and they come out with a C or a B – the rare A – those are my proudest moments because it’s not the students that get it and it comes naturally to them, it’s the students that, like myself, they bump into the subject and it’s not easy for them. Students can’t believe that here I am with a PhD in chemistry and I’m going “Yeah, I was a terrible student. Look at me now!” But it’s those students who really rally and go after it because they want it bad enough.”
To women pursuing careers in STEM, Dr. Blue advises “Make sure you set your goals - set them high and don’t necessarily set them centered on yourself ... When [Elon Musk] was your age he sat down – and most of us [say] “I want to be this, I want to be that,” – he sat down and said, “Okay, what are the top five problems in the world – I’m going to go after those.” And that’s what he has done. And I think pulling the focus off of ourselves and onto helping others is the key to success. And making sure that what you’re doing makes the best use of your skillset and your interests and your passions.”