Lisa Parks is an Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor and the Director of Biological Sciences in the College of Sciences. She grew up on the Space Coast in Melbourne Beach, Florida, earned a B.S. in zoology at Duke University, and completed a doctorate in biology with a concentration in cell physiology and biochemistry from Georgia State University.
Since 1999, Parks has been teaching in the Department of Biological Sciences at NC State. She instructs several courses ranging from introduction to cell biology to an honors seminar on cancer through the ages, is actively involved in course development, and enjoys mentoring undergraduate and graduate students. For many years, she has incorporated case studies into her physiology and cell biology courses and has designed a faculty-initiated honors component where students design, present, and lead new case studies.
Currently, she advises 20-30 biology majors, is director of the biology honors students, and works with the Women in Science and Engineering program as a mentor and presenter. Parks and Steve Greene serve as Park Faculty Scholars for the Class of 2022.
What is the best part about being a professor at NC State?
The students. I enjoy working with students who are engaged and ready to work through the material with me. NC State has the best students.
What is something all Park Scholars should know about you?
Oh my, I’m not sure. I grew up on the beach and I’m always trying to find my way back. But I’m a real science nerd at heart and I’m most excited when I’m in the classroom or lab.
What inspired you to become a Park Faculty Scholar?
I’ve mentored several Park Scholars since I’ve been at NC State and the chance to get to know an entire Park class – in PRK block, on learning lab and retreat trips, and even in committee meetings was exciting.
Share a fun story about a Park Scholar.
Anna Edens Hurst ’05 is hilarious! She was my advisee initially. She and I wrote a Park Enrichment Grant application to buy a digital camera for her lab classes. Digital cameras were all the rage and were brand new. When I told her we were going to name our son Gabe, she spontaneously announced that was a great name because the cutest boy in her high school was named Gabe. Anna would walk into my office and announce things about her classes, her lunch, her roommate, whatever was on her mind, and it would make me laugh every time.
Which Park experience are you most excited about?
I’ve really enjoyed the two Learning Lab trips. The opportunity to travel with students and get to know them outside the classroom – taking time to talk about their experiences and their aspirations – has been a joy.
What has been the most surprising or challenging aspect of your involvement with the Park Scholarships program so far?
With COVID, the challenge has been staying connected to the class. Many students had study abroad, internships, etc. cancelled. Many struggled with online classes. Not being able to connect in person was difficult for everyone.
What is one thing someone might not know about Park Scholars?
Park Scholars are so much more than “good students with good grades.” They care about their community and are always looking for opportunities to make a difference. Sometimes they stumble, just like everyone else.
What advice would you offer to Park Scholars?
Take advantage of the amazing opportunities the program offers but don’t overload yourself. Don’t assume that everyone in your Park class is doing more, achieving more than you. Take deep breaths and find what you are passionate about.