UMass Amherst has given Meaghan Molloy a variety of opportunities to explore her passion for science far beyond taking the typical classes. In addition to studying chemistry, her major, she’s worked in faculty research labs—plant soil and insect sciences as a freshman, and now chemistry—and held two significant summer internships.
Immersing herself in a faculty lab as a freshman was key, as that venture led to Meaghan being selected for a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at Brandeis University the summer before her sophomore year. The REU experience in turn prepared her for an internship the following summer in the regulatory affairs offices of GE Healthcare. “They make amazing products, like a handheld ultrasound you can take into the field,” she says. “I really liked working with the variety of people—the engineers, the sales people, with regulatory affairs fitting in the middle.”
UMass Amherst combines a world-class research environment with faculty devoted to undergraduates. “That means you can actually get into a lab on campus,” Meaghan says happily. “You can have great interactions with the principal investigator—the head of the lab. I meet with mine, Chemistry Professor Lynmarie Thompson, one on one every other week. And we talk about more than just the research—she also answers my advising questions, for instance.” In the Thompson Lab, Meaghan hones many of the techniques she was introduced to during her REU summer.
Meaghan has been able to pursue her broad interests in the sciences in other ways at UMass Amherst. As a member of the interdisciplinary iCons (Integrated Concentration in Science) program, she can explore her interest in variety of areas, from environmental science to biochemistry. The competitive, unique four-year iCons program gives her the opportunity to work closely with students from a variety of majors to solve specific real-life problems from industry. The results have been practical as well as fun. “The skills we learn in the team-based learning projects are very applicable to the workplace,” she says. “I can see that in my internships.”
Taking advantage of the many opportunities outside the classroom, Meaghan has found time to work as a teaching assistant for introductory biology and volunteer at a nearby assisted-living facility. She’s also played intramural volleyball in the Just for Fun league.
She’s well positioned whichever way she decides to go after she graduates. “I knew UMass Amherst could set me up for grad school, that’s a reason I came here,” Meaghan says. “I would love to go to medical school. Or get a PhD. Or even an MD/PhD—that would be amazing!”