Brittany Duerk Spitznagel was recruited to play basketball at Lipscomb, but she also found time to throw the javelin for the track and field team for three years as well. In the classroom she excelled as an applied biochemistry major. She graduated in May from the Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy and was honored with two awards for her academic excellence. She is studying for her board exams and has also started her work on a doctorate at Vanderbilt with plans to teach in a pharmaceutical science department of a pharmacy school and continue research. She dropped by campus this week to talk with Lipscombsports.com.
What years did you play at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played basketball from 2008-2012. I was a part of the track team my sophomore, junior and senior years.
"Frank Bennett was my basketball coach. In track and field my coaches were Bill Taylor and Luke Syverson."
Why did you decide to attend Lipscomb?
"Honestly, I didn't know much about Lipscomb until Coach Bennett and Coach Billy Snell contacted me after seeing me play in an all-star event in Alabama.
"I am from Auburn, Alabama. I wanted to play basketball. I had originally decided I was going to Belmont. I scheduled a visit at Lipscomb at the same time I was planning to visit Belmont. The visit to Belmont fell through.
"When I visited Lipscomb I fell in love with it. My teammates I met were so welcoming and really made me feel at home. Most of them are still some of my best friends. The coaching staff and the campus were beyond my expectations. And the strong science department was definitely a plus."
You were recruited to play basketball so how did you become a part of the track and field team?
"I threw the javelin in high school. I really enjoyed it.
"Basketball is team-oriented. The outcomes are dependent on the team as a whole.
"In my one track event it was really on me. If I messed up I had no one to blame but myself and my successes were my own. It gave me balance to do something that was a bit more individualized."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"My very last game of my senior year when we beat Kennesaw State 72-64 on the road. Anna Bowers, Leah McAlister Weatherly and I all finished with some of the best stats we had ever had in a game.
"I felt like we really played together. It was special that we did that in our very last game. And we won."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"Katie Beth Allen. She was an assistant coach. She had been in the same position I was in. as a player
"I was not as strong as I could have been as a post player when I came to Lipscomb. I hadn't been lifting weights that hard. She pushed me to work hard in the offseason.
"She made herself available to me to work on my post moves and rebounding skills. She wrote me lot of encouraging notes. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and at times I am too hard on myself. Her notes of encouragement always made me believe in myself again."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"Even if it wasn't something athletic I usually was doing something with my teammates. We liked to eat a lot. We went to a lot of different restaurants.
"After some of us moved to the Village Apartments together my junior year we used to cook and have family dinners. I have a knack for baking and I baked a lot of cupcakes."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"Time management. That helped me more than anything else in the world.
"I used a lot of time management at Lipscomb. It helped that Leah McAlister and Miaca Bowman were in the same major I was. We had a lot of study parties on the bus when we were on the road.
"I had to learn to make time for athletics, classes and labs and also have time for a social life. It is something I have carried with me."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"I definitely have three of them. Dr. Jon Lowrance taught my first biology class. It really pushed me to become a better student and improve my study skills. His lectures were similar to the ones we had in pharmacy school. I felt like he really prepared me for that professional academic lifestyle.
"I took seven chemistry and biochemistry classes, including labs, with Dr. Kent Clinger. He was definitely the most supportive of his athletes. I was taking a bio chemistry lab one semester and we had games during it each week. He allowed me to come in a few times a week after the season ended to make up any labs in his spare time.
"Dr. John Smith was a chemistry professor. He taught upper level chemistry. I did summer research with him. It set me on the path I am on now with my career trajectory in research."
Where do you live now?
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I just received my PharmD degree. It is a doctorate in pharmacy. It is three years of class room work and one year of rotations in different pharmacy settings.
"I am starting my PhD right now in pharmacology at Vanderbilt. I am doing a dual degree between Lipscomb and Vanderbilt called the PharmD/PhD.
"I did research at Lipscomb my first two summers in pharmacy school. I spent the third summer at Vanderbilt. I started full-time as a PhD student at Vanderbilt one week after graduation from pharmacy school at Lipscomb.
"It will take about a year of classes. I have to do a research project, pass my qualifying exam and be published as a first author in a journal to be able to defend my thesis. As part of the PhD program I am working in a pharmacology lab at Vanderbilt in Dr. C. David Weaver's lab. I want to teach in pharmacy school and also have a research lab as well.
"Dr. Weaver is my PhD mentor. He is a principal investigator and assistant professor of pharmacology. My work in his laboratory focuses on discovering and characterizing chemical tools for studying ion channel structure, function and therapeutic potential.
"I received a medallion from the pharmaceutical sciences department called the Pharmaceutical Sciences Impact Award. They don't give it out every year. I am only the third recipient. It is given to someone they think will impact the next generation of pharmaceutical scientists.
"I also received the Facts and Comparison's Award of Excellence in Clinical Communication. (Editor's note: The award is given to a student with high academic achievement who has demonstrated superior verbal and written clinical communication skills.)
Tell us about your family.
"I am married to Frank Spitznagel. We were married in August of last year. And we gave one spoiled-rotten puppy named Rexy."
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.