Palm Beach Atlantic University biology graduate Dr. Terri Bowers Hunter never imagined she’d end up in her current job supervising patents and licenses at University of South Florida in Tampa, she told students and faculty at her alma mater on Tuesday.
In fact, the Technology Transfer Office where she works barely existed when she became an undergraduate, said Dr. Hunter, who graduated from PBA in 1994 and now manages chemistry, life sciences and marine sciences for the Division of Patents and Licensing at USF.
She loves her field, she said, because it involves making the results of the research discovered in the university’s laboratories accessible by the general public.
“My goal is for science to always have an impact on people,” said Dr. Hunter, whose keynote speech in the Lassiter
Rotunda of the Warren Library kicked off Palm Beach Atlantic’s second annual Interdisciplinary Research Conference.
Prior to joining the Division of Patents and Licensing, Dr. Hunter worked as a research scientist at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. She has also served as a DNA analyst/expert witness for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Her post-doctoral training took place at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., from 1998-2000. She holds a master’s degree and doctorate in medical sciences from the University of South Florida College of Medicine.
Despite her distinguished science career, Dr. Hunter said music studies initially attracted her to PBA. Dr. Ray Robinson, PBA’s distinguished professor emeritus of music, recruited her, she said.
Then she signed up for a biology course, she said. “I found this one particular class to be so energizing and exciting, and it’s probably due in large part to the way it was taught, that I was hooked immediately,” she said.
She reminded the students in the audience to appreciate the small classes and mentorship that PBA has to offer.
“You’re getting a very intimate education, and that is priceless,” she said.
She added that the servant leadership approach and dedication to community service that she learned at PBA have served her well throughout her career. She said she also has benefitted from other classes she took, like speech, language arts and American free enterprise.
She advised science students to take advantage of research opportunities, even those outside their area of interest. “What you study in graduate school may or may not be what you study 10 to 15 years down the road,” she said.
A working mom who is married to another scientist, Dr. Hunter said it’s possible to balance the rigors of science with family life. “It’s a big misconception that you can’t,” she said.
The Interdisciplinary Research Conference continues through Wednesday. Presentations on a variety of topics in two tracks – science and math, and humanities and religion – will take place starting at 1 p.m. in the Warren Library’s Hanley Classroom (first floor) and the Center for Teaching Excellence (second floor, Room 208).