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CAHNRS Department of Horticulture Genomics Lab

Undergraduate – Maureen McFerson

Maureen McFerson

Maureen McFerson


Your name and what is/was your background (what is your major, why science, etc)?
I’m Maureen McFerson. I graduated with a BS in Food Science from WSU. I was very interested in Chemistry, but I wanted an applied degree that was extremely employable.

Why did you decide to join a research lab? How did the experience compare to what you had expected?
I joined the Dhingra lab to gain more varied exposure to the science world. Although the majority of my undergraduate courses contained a lab component, I wanted the responsibility and knowledge you can only gain from working in a lab.
Dr. Dhingra really encourages undergraduates to organize, follow through and own projects in the Genomics lab. The Genomics Lab is very unique to Washington State University, and Universities in general. As opposed to being a dishwasher or plating media, he actually gives the undergrads responsibility and encourages them to champion their own projects. This practice greatly impacted my undergraduate experience, easing the transition to graduate school. I would recommend even spending a semester in his lab to anyone interested in pursuing a career in the sciences.

What was cool, exciting or most interesting about your time in the lab?
The fact that the results from the research were not only tangible, but I was able to directly communicate with people it affected at industry meetings was very rewarding.

If there is something in particular you learned or discovered that you’d like to share with others, please take a moment to tell us about it.
Even if you don’t get the results your were looking for, the work that you produce is important to further the discipline.

If you would recommend conducting research in a science lab to others, what would you tell them to get them interested in the idea?
The work that I performed in the Genomics lab was a crucial piece in setting me up for an internship and Graduate school. I was able to prove that I could go beyond the classroom and not only have my own project, but receive funding from the university.

We’d love to know what you’re up to, so please give us a brief description of where you are working or going to school now.
I am currently a MS student in Food Science at the University of Georgia.

Did the lab experience help you with your classes or your perspective about science? Did working in the lab help you with developing other skills like time management or communication?
The experience in the lab not only augmented my classroom experience but it cemented my interest in pursuing an advanced degree. Communication was extremely important in the lab. Not sharing lab space, but the other lab members were sometimes essential to the roadblocks faced in during research. A friendly, understanding and collaborative environment was encouraged which greatly helped with productivity and the overall experience

Was there anything in particular you would have liked us to do different to enhance your learning or interest from the time spent in the lab?
Having a team building exercise always helps any group communication. Not only would it be a lot of fun, it would be very beneficial.

Do you feel better prepared for the workplace or future academic endeavors as a result of your time in the lab?
With out a doubt. I have since encouraged every undergraduate that I came in contact with to try and work in a lab. It will really help you to not only learn more about science, but open doors and possibilities that you would otherwise be unaware of.

Any other comments?
Although I’m a Bulldog now… I still bleed crimson. GO COUGS!