A high school science teacher encouraged Dr. Libby Puckett to forego a career in law and pursue science — a major life changer. Puckett combined her passion for chemistry and law by pursuing a degree in forensic science and has been paying it forward ever since.
Puckett earned her doctorate in bioanalytical chemistry from the University of Kentucky and came to Appalachian State University’s Department of Chemistry in 2004 to direct the forensic science program.
“I see it as my duty to help train the next generation of female scientists, particularly in a male-dominated profession like chemistry,” Puckett said. Her chemistry numbers reflect greater than 50 percent female majors; in the forensic concentration, about 70 percent.
Asked about great moments in her career, she recalls: “I recently filmed a section for Appalachian’s capital campaign with my then research assistant, Nicole Reilly ’12. In the interview I said there is a definite point in time when a student ceases to be a student and becomes a scientist in their own right. Nicole had a classic aha moment: ‘I am a scientist,’ she said. “That was a wonderful realization for Nicole and for me.”
Reilly, now working toward her Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina, said Puckett was a terrific role model. “People are always talking about that one influential person in your life. Dr. Puckett is that person for me. She took an interest in my goals and career aspirations. It is wonderful to have someone say, ‘I want to give you this time. I feel like you’re worth it.’”
What do you think?
Share your feedback on this story.
About the A.R. Smith Department of Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences
The A.R. Smith Department of Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences offers a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry, a Bachelor of Science in chemistry with eight different concentrations and an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science degree in fermentation sciences. The department’s programs prepare students to attend graduate and professional schools, as well as for employment in the pharmaceutical and fermentation industries and other business sectors. Learn more at https://chemistry.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at Appalachian State University is home to 17 academic departments, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. CAS aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. More than 6,400 student majors are enrolled in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing App State’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.