As a first generation college graduate, Tammy Boles feels connected to her students that are facing the same challenges.
“I have a desire to work with students, especially first-generation students, to help them be successful; it’s something I’m very passionate about,” said Boles.
The environmental chemistry and environmental studies professor has taught at Tech for just over three years. She earned both her undergraduate and master’s degrees in chemistry from the University of South Carolina. In 2009, she earned her doctorate degree in environmental science with a concentration in chemistry from Tennessee Tech. After working at Tech since 1994 first as a metals chemist at the Water Center and then as an advisor for interdisciplinary studies, she jumped at the chance to become an assistant professor once the School of Environmental Studies was established.
Boles says that interacting with her students is one of her favorite parts of her profession. She enjoys helping students see value in a branch of academics that they might not understand at first.
“I like interacting with students and teaching chemistry to students who don’t like it or don’t think they’re good at chemistry,” said Boles. “It gives me an opportunity to help them see that chemistry isn’t so bad.”
In addition to teaching environmental chemistry and environmental studies courses, Boles oversees the environmental studies internship program and teaches special topics courses for undergraduate and graduate students. Her research involves the detection and analysis of drugs in the environment.