LWC Alumna Laura Nissley Returns to Alma Mater as Biology Professor
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 [12:46 PM]
COLUMBIA, Ky. -- Laura Wheat Nissley thought
she would never get to experience a class in Lindsey Wilson
College's Jim and Helen Lee Fugitte Science Center.
Nissley graduated from LWC in May 2006, three months before the
Fugitte Science Center opened.
On Wednesday, Aug. 17, Nissley finally got to experience a class
in Fugitte Science Center - but it was as an LWC assistant
professor of biology.
Nissley's first class as an LWC professor was "Human Anatomy
& Physiology I," which met for the first time at 8:30 a.m.
Wednesday on the first floor of the Fugitte Science Center.
Nissley arrived at her campus office a little after 7 a.m., then
around 8 a.m. she began to set up the classroom for her 20-student
She said she was more nervous for her first class as an LWC
professor than as an LWC student.
"If I don't do my job and do it well, there is a room of 20
people who will suffer the consequences," she said a few minutes
before the class got under way.
Although a rookie professor, Nissley didn't exhibit any
nervousness during her first class. She exuded confidence as she
smoothly reviewed the syllabus with students and fielded questions
about the material that will be covered in the sophomore-level
course. In reality, however, she said she was both excited and
"I was terrified," she said. "I was just hoping, Please don't
let me forget something important. For a minute, I went blank, so I
just kept talking. I've been trained by the University of
Louisville not to sweat."
After she graduated from LWC in 2006, Nissley spent the next
five years at the University of Louisville, where she studied
physiology and biophysics. Her area of concentration was studying
how environmental pollution, such as second-hand smoke, affects the
During her five years as a UofL graduate student, Nissley
realized that she wanted to become a college professor. So she
began to "stalk the Lindsey Wilson website" for job openings.
Shortly after finishing her doctoral work, she was hired by LWC in
"It was just like a miracle," Nissley said. "I had been stalking
the Lindsey Wilson website. When the job was posted, I was all over
it. I said, This is a miracle, it's meant to be."
Nissley is one of 18 new LWC faculty hired this school year,
bringing the college's total number of full-time faculty to
Although LWC alumni have taught before at the college, Nissley
is the first LWC baccalaureate graduate with a doctorate in science
to join the faculty full-time.
Nissley said it was especially nice that her first class as an
LWC professor was held in the building she never got to enjoy as a
When the Fugitte Science Center was being built, "I was so
aggravated," she said. "Of course, I'm getting ready to graduate
and leave, and they build a new science building. I thought, I'll
never get to go in this building. And then here I am today."