My name is Erica Williams and I am a first year PhD student in the Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at the University of Arizona. The broad scope of this program allows for the first-year cohort to explore a variety of areas before specializing in a specific major at the end of our first year. I plan to major in Medical Pharmacology to further my understanding how drugs and other chemicals interact within our body and its systems. In my short time thus far at U of A, I have had three dynamic rotations which have allowed me to dive deeper in my exploration of pharmacologic questions. More specifically, my research is focused on transporter proteins that move substrates across cell membranes so that those substrates can reach their site of action. In the field of drug delivery, transporter proteins are extremely important because many drugs are too large to passively diffuse, so they require active transport to reach the intended target. With my PhD in Medical Pharmacology, I aspire to take my skill set to the pharmaceutical industry and design drugs that more efficient.
When I am not studying or in the lab, I love to spend my spare time in the kitchen, cooking for myself, family, and friends. Within this past year I started a food blog on Instagram to further share my love of cooking. For me, it is my best form of creative expression and as a result a great reliever of stress. After a long, mentally taxing day, I’ll come home and allow all the tension to melt away as I whip up a tasty meal. I also spend a lot of my time entertaining, using my love of cooking to catch up with friends and fellowship. I have always strived to integrate a balance between my academic pursuits and my personal life, and my love of cooking allows me to do just that. However, maintaining balance is what some would call a fluid concept. I have come to appreciate that sometimes there are periods that require extreme focus in order to meet a deadline and other times where there is more flexibility in my schedule. I function best when I have enough eustress to keep me from becoming stagnant. One of my best traits is being able to juggle many things at once while still allotting the required energy and attention to each. I attribute that to my ability to listen and solve problems in a timely manner. In regards to tutoring, my style is to first listen to the student, see what their needs are, and meet them where they are at.
During my time in undergrad, I served as a tutor for a wide spectrum of students from elementary school to college. While adapting to different learning levels, I realized that keeping the student actively engaged is the key to a successful session and overall understanding. While a teacher’s assistant (TA) for (BIO-102), an introductory biology class for non-majors, I worked with my peers from varying academic backgrounds and helped them learn common laboratory techniques. When tutoring middle school students, I used their interest in music was able to teach them a song to help them remember the order of operations. Through these experiences, I learned that each student learns differently and should be allowed to explore the various ways of learning that is best for them. My goal for this tutoring program is not to repeat the material in a didactic manner, but rather have a dialogue and teach the student in a way that makes the material easier to digest. I look forward to this wonderful opportunity and look forward to meeting you!