Associate professor Samantha Gizerian was destined to be a physicist but fell in love with neuroscience, particularly the developing brain, along the way. Attracted to the collaborative academic atmosphere, Dr. Gizerian has been at Washington State University for 11 years. She teaches the first course (Neuroscience 105) and last course (Neuroscience 490) in WSU’s neuroscience program.
What do you like most about teaching students at WSU?
It’s a unique opportunity to see the growth and skill development of my students. My favorite thing about teaching at WSU is the community spirit. Cougs help Cougs, and that carries over to the classroom. Students are far more collaborative than competitive, and they are open to working in groups and studying together.
What is your favorite part about being an educator?
I love that “lightbulb” moment when a student completely and utterly understands something new for the first time. It’s a privilege to help them find their passion in life as well.
What has been your academic/career path leading up to WSU?
I did my PhD at UNC-Chapel Hill studying stress and brain development in the context of schizophrenia, then I got my first real job as assistant professor of biomedical sciences at Charles Drew University in Los Angeles. CDU is an African American- and Hispanic-serving institution and designated as a Historically Black Graduate Institution. At CDU, I learned so much about health disparities and the real need for a diverse biomedical workforce in both the clinic and the lab. This was the root of my passion for science outreach to kids and supporting diverse students in STEM. I left CDU to come to WSU.
What drew you to WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine?
The thing that drew me to WSU was the opportunity to focus on teaching and advising students in a small program within a big university. I also appreciated the support and respect for scholarly teaching in our college and the ability to collaborate on teaching scholarship with colleagues in each of our programs.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I speak a little Spanish and Italian, and I am trying to learn French.