News & Stories

MaryBeth Rowland in a lab setting
March 11, 2020

Mentoring made the difference in this biology grad’s future

MaryBeth Rowland ’19 came to Berry to run cross-country and track, but starting her undergraduate career was not easy. Due to outside pressures and financial concerns, she lacked a clear path. However, after opening up to a trusted faculty mentor, she found a way to move forward with confidence.

“I was lost in my future direction, and I shared these issues with my advisor, Dr. Michael Morgan,” MaryBeth says. He helped her come up with a plan that eased her concerns. Still, MaryBeth felt lost in choosing a major. 

All of that changed in her third semester when she took Dr. Morgan’s cell biology class. “His passion shined through the subject material, and the depth of his knowledge of biological pathways inspired me to pursue medical applications of biology,” MaryBeth recalls. “I discovered my calling as a scientist, and I was truly excited to apply my newfound love to a career in science.”

MaryBeth went on to become a teacher assistant and research assistant in the biology department at Berry. Research with Assistant Professor of Biology Angela Poole led to co-authoring a paper published in Developmental & Comparative Immunology. With coral disease a major threat to reef ecosystems, their study focused on cnidarians (true corals are a major group), showing how understanding the cellular pathways underlying disease progression and resistance is important to mitigating future outbreaks.

“Publishing in an internationally peer-reviewed journal benefits the College and the [biology] department with exposure to an international audience,” says MaryBeth’s mentor and advisor, Dr. Michael Morgan. “MaryBeth’s future is very promising.”

Now a graduate teaching assistant and Ph.D. candidate in biological studies at the University of Alabama, MaryBeth looks forward to contributing knowledge to the exploration of human disease at the molecular and cellular level in hopes of discovering therapeutic innovations. “I had no idea that choosing to attend Berry College simply to run cross-country and track would give me an experience beyond just athletics,” she says. “It became the place that gave me the foundation and ignited my journey to one day manage my own lab to provide meaningful research to the field of medicine.”

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