Faculty of Distinction: Dr. Libby Puckett

Associate Professor and Forensic Science Program Director, Department of Chemistry

A high school science teacher encouraged Dr. Libby Puckett to forego a career in law and pursue science — a major life changer. Puckett combined her passion for chemistry and law by pursuing a degree in forensic science and has been paying it forward ever since.

Puckett earned her doctorate in bioanalytical chemistry from the University of Kentucky and came to Appalachian State University in 2004 to direct the forensic science program. 

“I see it as my duty to help train the next generation of female scientists, particularly in a male-dominated profession like chemistry,” Puckett said. Her chemistry numbers reflect greater than 50 percent female majors; in the forensic concentration, about 70 percent.

Asked about great moments in her career, she recalls: “I recently filmed a section for Appalachian’s capital campaign with my then research assistant, Nicole Reilly ’12. In the interview I said there is a definite point in time when a student ceases to be a student and becomes a scientist in their own right. Nicole had a classic aha moment: ‘I am a scientist,’ she said. “That was a wonderful realization for Nicole and for me.” (see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_MS1oh8qW0)

Reilly, now working toward her Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina, said Puckett was a terrific role model. “People are always talking about that one influential person in your life. Dr. Puckett is that person for me. She took an interest in my goals and career aspirations. It is wonderful to have someone say, ‘I want to give you this time. I feel like you’re worth it.’”