Featured Alums: Jesse Morgan (2001) and Jennifer Paxson (2006)

This month we feature two recent grads who are going to graduate school. 

Jennifer Paxson and Jesse Morgan as they have lunch with Dr. Fitzgerald on 10/12/2006.

Jesse Morgan: When I graduated from CBU in 2001 with my BS in biology, I never would have believed at the time that graduate school was in my future. I had never worked in a lab before and had no idea of the work that could go on there. The required senior project left me no choice but to explore this area of science, which I did with an open mind. I was extremely fortunate to find myself in the lab of Dr. Len Lothstein of the UTHSC Department of Pharmacology. My background course work from CBU prepared me for the basic topics that were covered, but the hands on work truly opened up the world of laboratory science. My project that summer, the role of the drug AD198 in cell apoptosis, earned a first place award at the Tennessee Academy of Sciences.

After college, I decided to take some time off and began working as a student at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the lab of Dr. John Schuetz. I eventually was hired as a research technician, where I had several independent projects of my own ranging from drug transport in vitro to drug toxicity in animal models. This work has led to one publication and two manuscripts that are currently being written.

The five years since graduation have afforded me the time to think about my career path. If it had not been for CBU, I would never have stepped foot into a lab. With that beginning, I have found something that I love to do and am willing to dedicate the rest of my life to. I am currently in my first year in the IPBS program at UT and am looking forward to getting back in the lab after the first year of class work. In essence, the opportunities I have been afforded by both CBU and St. Jude have led me to the door of what I hope to be a prosperous and beneficial scientific career.

Jennifer Paxson enjoying some free time hanggliding over Brazil during her MHIRT sponsored internship

Jennifer Paxson: I received a Bachelor’s in Biology cum laude with a minor in Chemistry and Behavioral Sciences. While I attended CBU, I had two career related experiences. I was selected to participate in the MHIRT program run by Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald and worked in a Microbiology Lab at Analytical Laboratories, Inc in Memphis, TN.

The MHIRT program sends undergraduate and graduate students to the countries of Brazil and Uganda for 10 weeks each summer. The program pays for all the travel-related expenses and housing while you are there. You also get a stipend. I was lucky enough to be sent to Florianopolis, Brazil. I performed research at the Universidade de Federal de Santa Catarina with Dr. Risoletta Marques. My research investigated HSP-70 and GST in the gills of the oyster Crassostrea rhizophorae. This ended up being my senior research that CBU requires all biology students to have in order to graduate. When I was not in the lab, I had tons of fun exploring the city of Florianopolis, hanging out on it many beaches, and traveling throughout Brazil to Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Francisco do Sol, and Foz do Igaucu. I was totally immersed in the Brazilian culture and it was so amazing and a truly unforgettable experience. Also, through the MHIRT program, I had an opportunity to present my research in poster form at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in 2005 in Atlanta, GA and in powerpoint form in Gatlinburg, TN at the Regional ASB meeting.

Both working in a lab in the biotech industry and performing research at a university gave me great experience for Graduate School. I have now been at UT Memphis in the Integrated Biomedical Science PhD program for 6 weeks. The research experience I have already had, thanks to CBU, has given me a leg up on the other students and was the majority what was discussed at my interview for UT. This research also gave me a taste what the last 3 years of my PhD will be like. I am finding out that the classes, such as Freshmen Biology, Embryology, Pharmacology, Genetics, Animal Behavior, Applications of Memory, Biochemistry, Vertebrate Physiology, and Neuroscience, I took at CBU are helping me tremendously in the two classes I am taking now. Now though, I wish I would have taken Cell Biology and Immunology.