Molly Morgan

Molly M. Morgan

Molly Morgan (’14) graduated from University of Massachusetts Amherst with a dual degree in Animal Sciences and Environmental Science. In the fall of 2014, Molly will be starting a PhD program in Molecular and Environmental Toxicology at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Her coursework focused on environmental toxicology, allowing her to further explore her interest in toxins. During her undergraduate career she participated in several research projects on the UMass campus and gained animal experience outside of the institution.

During Molly’s first semester at UMass she began working at Franklin Dining Commons, where she continued to work until the end of her sophomore year. The summer after Molly’s freshman year she worked as an intern for Project Wildlife, a wildlife refuge in her home town of San Diego. Her primary responsibilities included feeding and medicating animals, as well as training volunteers. While at Project Wildlife she realized her love for working with animals. In addition to her primary work with songbirds and corvids, Molly also had opportunities to work with birds of prey, small mammals, fowl, and other animals. Molly joined her first research project her sophomore year when she began working in the Massachusetts Pesticide Analysis Lab. This lab studied the ability of several plant species to phytoremediate pesticides commonly used in golf courses. In addition, she worked at the Podos lab for one semester, feeding and maintaining the songbirds.

The following summer Molly returned to her hometown and worked at an exotic bird store where she raised and trained parrots. When she arrived back at UMass her junior year, she continued to work at MPAL, and joined an additional lab through the Biology Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program. In the Hormone and Cognition Lab, through the Psychology Department, she studied the effects that sex hormones have on aging marmosets: a species of nonhuman primate. Alongside her love for working with animals, Molly developed a fascination with the science behind toxins. Consequently, Dr. John Clark, the P.I. of her pesticide toxicology lab (as well as a VASCI professor) allowed her to join his other lab that focused on studying the neurotoxic effects that insecticides have on the central nervous system of mammals. Initially her primary duty was to assist a graduate student with frog surgeries, but she quickly became more involved with the lab. Molly stayed in Amherst that summer to continue her research.

By her final semester at UMass, under the guidance of Dr. Clark, Molly completed her honors thesis titled, “The Effects of DDT and DDE on Voltage Sensitive Sodium Channels Expressed in Adult Rat Brain Using P2-Injection Xenopus Laevis Oocytes.” In addition, she continued to work in the other two labs.

Molly sees her experiences through the Animal Science department as the largest contributing factor in having been accepted to her first choice of graduate schools.