A. Elizabeth (Betsy) Arnold, B.S. 1995

Professor, School of Plant Sciences and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona – Tucson, Arizona

1995 Major: Biology

How has being a Biology graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"The quality of teaching and mentorship in Biology at Duke inspired my curiosity and confidence as a young scientist. With that foundation, I was able to spend a year after graduation working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. From there, I went on to my doctoral studies in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, where my research experiences and training at Duke and STRI became a large part of my successful application to the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program. I appreciated not only the foundational skills in science and critical thinking that I gained as a Duke undergraduate, but also the guidance I received in writing, the way faculty encouraged my curiosity about the natural world, and the encouragement and support I received from my professors at a key moment when life events made my academic progress tenuous. Some of my most memorable moments include informal conversations with professors over lunch or while walking across campus -- an exchange of ideas and perspectives that helped me grow intellectually and personally. Now a professor myself, I aspire to create opportunities and support junior scholars in the ways my Duke Biology professors did. I returned to Duke as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow after I completed my PhD and continue to collaborate with outstanding scientists there, retaining a meaningful connection to this outstanding department. I am always grateful that I was a Duke Biology student, as I feel benefits from that experience every day."

What advice would you give students in Duke's Biology programs? 

"Duke offers exceptional opportunities for research. In my experience, Biology supports and fosters curiosity and intellectual engagement in unique and powerful ways. A summer at the Marine Lab, an independent project in Duke Forest, a conversation with a professor over coffee, a connection with an alumnus -- all can catalyze your interests and help you find a path that might not yet be on your map. In my experience, Duke Biology is great place to grow, with a quality of faculty, students, and resources that makes it special. Making the most of your time there will have a lasting and positive impact on the person and professional you become."

A. Elizabeth (Betsy) Arnold