PHD, University of North Carolina
Petrise grew up in North Augusta, South Carolina, and remembers wanting to be a doctor from the time she was in third grade. But she had a fabulous high school chemistry teacher ("she made it make sense – and she had fun with it"), so Petrise decided to major in chemistry at Furman. While excelling in the classroom (she graduated Phi Beta Kappa), she also helped classmates with chemistry, tutored elementary and middle school students, and led a Brownie troop.
At UNC, Petrise researched how neurotransmitters work in the brains of rats and mice; her dissertation is titled, "Fast Scan Cyclic Voltammetry at Carbon-Fiber Microelectrodes: Applications in Brain Slices." She notes that this sort of work contributes to researchers' understanding of the human brain and such diseases as Parkinson's and schizophrenia. Despite the importance of her research, Petrise says, "My teaching assignments were always the most enjoyable and rewarding part of the experience." She taught labs and also conducted study and review sessions.
An assistant professor of chemistry at Shaw University for a year, Petrise taught four different semester-long chemistry courses. She enjoyed her students but appreciates having students for the entire year at Baylor because she can see the growth in their understanding and in their confidence and self-esteem. She says, "I absolutely love interacting with students and constantly being exposed to their energy and perspective. I enjoy being a part of their development." In a fully equipped classroom that she calls "a blessing,"
Petrise has taught both regular and advanced sections of the first-year chemistry course. She also teaches Advanced Placement Chemistry, and she says that the AP students need to keep on their toes: the curriculum for the AP classes includes everything covered in General Chemistry in college, and the pace is necessarily rapid.
During her years at UNC, she was a youth leader at a local Baptist church and taught weekly Bible classes to sixth through ninth graders, and her faith remains central in her life. She loves long walks, reading, gardening, and spending time with family and friends.
Written by Jim Stover, 2003