Dr. Meredith Storms has come full circle.
A Lumberton native, she graduated from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 1997 and has returned to head undergraduate research and to teach in the school's Department of Physics and Chemistry.
Small in stature, Dr. Storms has large shoes to fill replacing Dr. Sivanadane Mandjiny, who has been promoted to associate professor of chemistry.
"She was a brilliant student," said Dr. Mandjiny. "I am very happy that she is here and am looking forward to working with her," he said.
Dr. Mandjiny once supervised Dr. Storms when she was an undergraduate and the student-professor duo presented research findings at a conference. She will now be his successor.
Chemistry Professor Paul Flowers also remembers Dr. Storms as a student.
"She was exceptionally bright," he said. "She's going to be a top-notch faculty member and she would be an asset to any teaching department," he said.
Dr. Storms is looking forward to working alongside professors that mentored her as an undergraduate and is eager to explain chemistry in a way that makes it understandable and interesting to students.
"A lot of chemistry is theoretical, so you need to make it seem like it applies in everyday life or else your students will be saying 'I hate chemistry,'" said Dr. Storms. "Demonstrations help people understand what they are looking at and why. It's better than just teaching from a book."
Fresh out of the University of Georgia's College of Pharmacy, Dr. Storms was intimidated at first by students who attended larger schools like East Carolina and North Carolina State universities.
"I thought, 'I hope I'm not at a disadvantage coming from a smaller school,' but I think I was actually at an advantage," Dr. Storms said. She credits a low professor-to-student ratio and said that laboratory work was only one area where it paid to have a degree from UNCP. "I think you're equal or better off here than at other institutions," she said.
Dr. Storms is excited to be back in the company of professors who helped her, and is looking forward to mentoring students who have undecided majors or career paths.
"In this department, I believe everybody works together, and there's a common goal to serve the students," she said. "I wanted to be part of this kind of environment, involved with students and not just teaching."
Storms is married to Billy Storms of Lumberton, who is also a UNCP graduate.