Surrounded by only her thoughts and glass beekers, one Cabrini student spends much of her time diligently working in the Iadarola Science Center. Katie Mageeney, senior biology major and math and chemistry minor, is anything but an average student.
“Katie is definitely dedicated to her lab work,” Stephanie Recklau, senior biology and pre/med. major, said. “When she is not in class or being a classroom coach she spends all her extra time in the lab. We are constantly joking that she should have a cot in the Iadarola building.”
Mageeney’s work over the past couple years in the biology department has been propelled by the Howard Hughes Medical School Science Education Alliance Phage Genomics grants.Mageeney approached Dr. David Dunbar, associate professor of biology, about conducting independent research in the lab.
She also requested to become a peer mentor for the phage genomics course, a national experiment where freshmen-level undergraduate students are engaged in original laboratory research by discovering their own novel mycobacteriophage species.
Unfortunately, the phage genomics students met only twice a week for labs and were not able to complete their work in one short semester. Mageeney volunteered her own time to isolate the DNA of all 16 mycobacteriophages and prepared slides, finding that one of the phages had a unique pattern, now named Marvin.Dunbar said Mageeney has been a dream come true for the science department and himself.
“Dr. Harrison and I became so confident in Katie’s command of the experiments and laboratory teaching effectiveness. There were several lab periods where Katie became the instructor. Our students would sometimes joke with us that Katie should get paid a faculty salary because of her efforts and knowledge,” Dunbar wrote in a recommendation letter.
Beyond faculty and peer praises, Mageeney is serving as a co-author in a peer-reviewed publication titled “Peer Mentoring in a Freshman Laboratory” that was published in the “CUR Quarterly” last December.Working with students is important to Mageeney because she has always been fond of children.
A large part of the reason she chose to attend Cabrini was to stay close to her younger sister.“She was born my senior year of high school and I wanted to watch her grow up,” Mageeney said.The future is wide open for Mageeney while she waits to hear from her top graduate school choices.
Lehigh University is her top choice because it is close to home.While becoming a pediatrician was a career Mageeney had considered in the past, her time as a peer mentor has dramatically influenced her future.“I see Katie as a science college professor in her future. She’s great at research and a great teacher as well,” Dunbar said.
As an RA, peer mentor, tutor and independent researcher, Mageeney’s future as a professor already seems inevitable.