Most days, I’d just like my research to have a positive impact in my immediate vicinity. However, we have been fortunate to work on some research projects over the years that really have made a difference nationally and internationally.
Environmental chemistry professor Todd Anderson holds a solid position among the ranks of Texas Tech’s Integrated Scholars. He joined the university’s faculty in 1997, and since that time Anderson has established himself as an accomplished researcher and an engaging academician. His scholarship tracks the movement of chemical contaminants through the environment, an area of great interest and one with global implications. Anderson has been prolific as a researcher. Over the years he has amassed more than 170 journal publications, more than 8,500 total citations and numerous awards, including the TTU System Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award in 2004. He has also been instrumental as a mentor, working with students from high school through the postdoctoral levels as well as with women scientists. Anderson has also earned acclaim in the classroom, receiving the TTU President’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2003. Beyond research and teaching, Anderson serves as interim director of The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Texas Tech, and he chairs the Department of Environmental Toxicology. His service has included duties as an associate editor for two journals, a faculty adviser for the TIEHH student organization, and a member of federal review panels.
Learn more about Integrated Scholar Todd Anderson in this question-and-answer session.
What are your research objectives and interests?
I’m interested in the fate and transport of fugitive chemicals (pollutants) in the environment and how they get into organisms. By understanding how chemicals move in the environment, we hope to prevent or protect animals from potential adverse effects.
How do you feel your research impacts the globe?
Environmental issues, including chemical pollution, are global. Now whether my research really impacts the globe, I’m not so sure. Most days, I’d just like my research to have a positive impact in my immediate vicinity. However, we have been fortunate to work on some research projects over the years that really have made a difference nationally and internationally.
What types of service projects have you been involved with?
I’ll give you a couple examples. I’m involved professionally in the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), where I’ve served as an associate editor for the society’s journal (Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry) since 2002. I’m also involved professionally in the American Chemical Society (ACS), where I serve as chair of the Student Awards Committee for the Environmental Chemistry Division.
What are you currently working on?
I stay pretty busy and enjoy collaborative research. For example, Andrew Jackson and I work on natural occurrence of perchlorate (among several other collaborations). Chris Salice and I have a neat project on perfluorinated compounds that were used in fire-fighting foams and their potential environmental impact. Johnathan Maul and I have a small project on monitoring algal toxins in Lake Texoma.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I’ve had good mentors, beginning in high school. Ron Luedke and Steve Godeken got me interested in science. In college, Dr. David Pippert and Dr. Larry Pappas introduced me to research and inspired me to go to grad school. My grad school adviser (Dr. Barbara Walton) and postdoc mentor (Dr. Joel Coats) helped establish my work ethic and the drive to chase research money. Recently, I’ve been inspired by our graduate students; being around universities keeps you young.
What advice do you have for new faculty members about balancing the components of Integrated Scholarship—teaching, research and service—in their careers?
There are going to be times when one or more of those components is not going well. It is probably going to be the research component and, in particular, a lack of success in grant funding. During those times, you have to keep trying and also strive to excel at the other components. Funding goes in cycles, but the quality of the work you do should always be constant.
In college, I started as a math major, mainly because I had lots of math in high school. But after a couple years of biology and chemistry classes, it was clear where my interests were. And as I indicated above, I was inspired to go to grad school by two instructors in college that introduced me to research. Ultimately, the “how and why” comes down to the fact that God has opened a lot of doors for me.
B.S., Biology (magna cum laude), Peru State College, Peru, NE (1986);
M.S., Environmental Toxicology, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (1988);
Ph.D., Environmental Toxicology, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (1991);
Postdoctoral training, Pesticide Toxicology, Iowa State University (1992-1996);
AAAS/EPA Environmental Science and Engineering Fellow, Washington, D.C. (1997, Summer)