I've not kept in touch as well as I should have, and I want to assure you that it's due to my own negligence and not a reflection of my esteem for my alma mater. I firmly believe that the foundation for my scholastic success was established at LSMSA, and owe an enormous debt of gratitude to you, the faculty, staff, and my fellow students for helping to shape me into the scientist, researcher, and individual I am today.
In the spring of 2007, I received a B.S. in biology and a B.A. in philosophy from The University of Alabama (UA). While at UA for my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to study in my beloved Scotland for a semester. I attended the University of Glasgow, where I studied political and moral philosophy. I also traveled extensively, and explored many of the historic sites that featured prominently in my Distinction project.
This past summer, I graduated again from UA with an M.S. in phylogenentic systematics, a discipline within evolutionary biology that reconstructs the evolutionary relationships of extant organisms. I returned to Scotland in the spring of 2008 to carry out my field research. In support of my Master's research, I received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Bridge to the Doctorate fellowship.
I'm currently settling into my first year at Duke University, where I'm working toward a Ph.D. in comparative evolutionary genomics. I'm specifically working on understanding the genomic elements responsible for mediating symbiotic interactions between plants and fungi, with the ultimate goal of elucidating how such interactions may have influenced the transition of early life from marine to terrestrial habitats. I have been awarded two national fellowships to support my research, an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and a Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship. Further, Duke awarded me the Dean's Graduate Fellowship.
Outside of academia, I have just purchased my first home here in Durham, North Carolina, which keeps me busy (and out of trouble!) when I'm not in the lab.
I just wanted to touch base with everyone at LSMSA to let them know that I'm continuing to be an advocate for the school in the only way I know how: by excelling in my studies and my research using the skill set that I developed in my two years in Natchitoches. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunities I have been offered in the last several years, especially those from my time at LSMSA. Without the Louisiana School, I would not have benefited from the mentorship of the faculty and it is doubtful I would have gained the early research experience (in both historical/literary research and scientific research) that ultimately steered me toward my current career trajectory. The LSMSA family provides an invaluable service to the sons and daughters of Louisiana, one that has had a lasting impact on my life. Thank you.