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Biology

Meaghan Moxley

Class of 2011
Major/Minor
Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Pre-Med /Biology

Meaghan is in her second year of medical school at University of Maryland.

When Meaghan Moxley ‘11 began her college search, she narrowed her options to schools with strong programs in neuroscience — a unique combination of biology and psychology — and premedical studies. Rather than a larger research university, Meaghan preferred the more personalized education at a liberal arts school like Washington College.

“It was one of the only colleges I looked at with an established program combining bio and psych. The classes were well-developed, unlike some schools whose neuroscience programs were still in an experimental phase,” she remembers.

After she was accepted to WC, Meaghan was encouraged to apply for a Hodson Science Fellowship, awarded to incoming freshmen to fund student-faculty collaborative research during the summer after their sophomore or junior year. “I found out I got the fellowship before I registered. Knowing I’d be able to have that opportunity was one of my deciding factors in choosing Washington College,” Meaghan says.

Meaghan used the fellowship, as well as grants from the science research foundation Sigma Xi and the College’s Douglass Cater Society of Junior Fellows, to team up with Dr. Mike Kerchner, her behavioral neuroscience advisor, on a project to develop a new protocol for clinical substance addiction research in an animal model.

“Dr. Kerchner gently pushed me to explore and step outside my comfort zone in the lab. He has been instrumental in my growth as a researcher and a scientist,” she said.

Meaghan was also awarded a grant from the Cater Society to attend the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, where she conferred with other scientists before beginning her own project.

“You can only learn so much from a journal article; a lot of simple things get left out. Being able to actually talk to the investigators is really important,” Meaghan says.

She spent the summer before her senior year on campus, working on a new protocol for her research about nicotine consumption and its effects on the endocrine system.

“There are certain factors you don’t think about until you really start delving into the research, like the complexities of control for certain variables. It’s a challenge to create a protocol that takes all that into account, still answers the question you want to ask, and fits within time and budget constraints,” Meaghan says.

Her senior thesis will build on her summer research. “My goal has always been to find a way to use everything I’ve learned — from biology, psychology, even an English class that improved my writing style. I’ve been working towards my thesis all summer, so it should be the culmination of all my studies and research.”

She is confident that her courses and experiences at Washington College prepared her for the rigors of medical school. “I’ve learned not just academic material and scientific facts, but also how to approach problems and work through them, when to push a little more and when to redirect,” she notes.

Meaghan has relied on the support of faculty, especially Dr. Kerchner and Dr. Kate Verville, chair of the premedical committee, while working on her research and her medical school applications.

“Knowing that they’re more than willing to help is so comforting. Dr. Verville even took the time to go over several drafts of my personal statement for my medical school applications over the summer — I can’t imagine having to go through the application process without her,” Meaghan says. “That level of dedication from the faculty is so important and it’s something I really value. It sets you up to be the best med school candidate you can be.”

Meaghan is a member of the Class of 2015 University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Campus Involvement

Q & A

Hometown? Churchville, MD

High School? John Carroll School

Favorite Class at WC? Dr. Kerchner’s Learning class involved highly relevant concepts that were conveyed both through real life applications and an on-going lab that became more complex with our increased understanding of the material. I love classes that allow me to apply what I’m learning as I go, and this was definitely one of them!

Recommended Professor? Dr. Verville, because she teaches incredibly interesting material in a way that is accessible to everyone.

Most Memorable Experience as a First-Year Student? Getting out on the water for the first time as a novice rower.

If I Could be An Animal, I’d be… A hummingbird — not only can they fly, they can hover in mid-air!

One Thing You Shouldn’t Forget to Pack? Rain boots