All Baylor students know that we’re lucky to attend the school we do. With our strong academic programs, incredible athletic facilities, and various student clubs, there’s no limit to what can be achieved at our wonderful school. But one of the most important parts of Baylor—the part that arguably makes our school stand out from others—is our faculty. Instructing a wide variety of subjects, making personal connections with their students, and constantly bettering our community, Baylor teachers and faculty members serve a huge role on campus. To see an example of this, you need look no further than Dr. Mary Loveless.
A graduate of Vanderbilt and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Dr. Mary Loveless is a Principal Scientist of Engineering Research with the Baylor Research Program and serves as an instructor in the science department. “You can find me in Weeks 104— the Engineering Lab,” Dr. Loveless said. “I teach Engineering Design and Research courses specifically related to engineering. As the instructor for Engineering Research, I teach, mentor, and guide students on engineering-centric research, including areas of cooperative robotics, virtual reality, and cube satellite technology.” Dr. Loveless has over 20 peer-reviewed, published papers under her belt, four of which have included Baylor faculty or students in the past two years.
Right off the bat, you can see Dr. Loveless’s commitment to and involvement on campus. And throughout her interview, one thing was clear: Dr. Loveless takes immense pride in the work of her students. “My students have presented their research both locally and nationally,” Dr. Loveless remarked. From publishing articles in professional scientific journals about their work to sweeping awards at the Chattanooga Regional Science and Engineering Fair, Baylor engineering and research students excel in their fields, and Dr. Loveless made sure to discuss their dedication and awe-inspiring work.
One of the things you may know Dr. Loveless for is her role as head coach of the Baylor Robotics Program. Dr. Loveless, along with fellow Baylor teachers Erin Woodrow and Heath Montgomery, founded the program in 2016, and both the Middle and Upper School programs have “grown over the years to increase in number of students, capabilities, and recognition as a competitive team in the region.” Under the guidance of Dr. Loveless, Talon Stroud, and Jeff Edwards, the Ohm Raiders, Baylor’s Upper School robotics team, received several prestigious awards at both the Tennessee and Alabama State Championships this year, including the Design Award, Think Award, and Inspire Award. The Middle School team participated in First Lego League (FLL), the Chattanooga Green Prix Electric Car Race, and the MATE Underwater ROV Competition (editor's note: some of these competitions may have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
Dr. Loveless enjoys being a part of the robotics program because “every year, the competition completely changes, offering the team the chance to brainstorm, design, and explore new ways to solve the problems. It’s incredible to see our talented students work together to tackle these challenges, optimize solutions, and build excitement about robotics in the community, and ultimately showcase their accomplishments.” Dr. Loveless continued, explaining that “the skills the students develop in robotics go beyond technical— one student has even written several grants to fund an elementary school FLL team at one of the Baylor community service sites.”
Dr. Loveless has also worked to impact the greater Chattanooga community. As MSNBC covered in a short interview, the Baylor research teachers Dr. Elizabeth Forrester and Dr. Dawn Richards have been running tests for COVID-19 in Baylor’s very own research lab. When asked what role she plays in the testing, Dr. Loveless responded by stating that “as part of Baylor Research, I have hoped to provide any and all support for the success of these efforts, particularly with regard to the supply shortages the pandemic has caused. The Engineering Lab has unique equipment that has been able to aid in the production of components used in the test kits.” Dr. Loveless currently works to “manufacture these components within the lab to ensure supply chain delays do not halt testing in the community.”
A self-described wife, mom to “two amazing kiddos,” and runner, Dr. Loveless explained that she first got into teaching because she “used to volunteer [during graduate school] to speak to high school students about careers in biomedical engineering and imaging science/cancer imaging (my specialty).” Dr. Loveless “really enjoyed [her] time in the classroom, talking to students about their potential and their future.” When it came time for her to decide what she wanted to do after completing her masters’ degree and PhD at Vanderbilt, Dr. Loveless knew that she “wanted to be in the classroom.” However, Dr. Loveless wanted to “go beyond to help her students see classroom material in a more real-world context, challenging them to understand that science and engineering is not just about content; instead, it is a process that we use to generate new knowledge, techniques, and tools.”
"Often, people think that a student’s youth discounts his/her abilities to tackle sophisticated, challenging topics or problems; but they forget what kind of passion and drive these students have,” Dr. Loveless said. “I love working alongside my students as a mentor or even as a colleague. For me, it is refreshing and hopeful.”
It is these kinds of teachers—those that believe in, guide, and care for their students—that make Baylor so special. To Dr. Loveless and our Baylor faculty members, thank you for all that you do, and know that you serve as a source of inspiration to many.