Meet an Alum

Garrett Thompson

Poster Garrett Thompson

Major while at UNH: Biochemistry Cellular and Molecular Biology

Year Graduated: 2016 (December)

Based on your experience here at UNH, why would you recommend prospective students to attend UNH? UNH has a beautiful campus and rigorous academics, but its value goes so much beyond its traditional academics. UNH provides a network for students to pursue their passions beyond the books. Through the UNH honors program and the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research I was able to explore my interests in research. My sophomore summer I was awarded a SURF with Dr. Jeffrey Halpern and my junior year I was awarded an IROP to undertaken research in the UK. My most valuable experiences at UNH occured outside of the classroom. The support network to pursue these out of classroom opportunities, such as the Hamel Center, the honors program, and the office of national fellowships, are what set UNH apart from similar institutions.

What are you currently doing? Is your current position related to your undergraduate field(s) of study?

I currently work in a lab at Dartmouth medical school. My research focuses on protein biochemistry and mouse model work. I study the molecular mechanisms of prion disease and potential treatments. Prions are unique form of infectious agent unlike virus or bacteria. Prions are malformed proteins found in the brain that alter the shape of other healthy proteins. This causes plaques of protein to build up leading to neurodegeneration and eventually death.

I will be leaving my current position at Dartmouth shortly so that I can accept a Fulbright Fellowship. As a Fulbright Scholar I will be obtaining my masters of public health at the Univeristy of Sheffield in Sheffield England.

How did your UNH education prepare you for your career? I eventually want to pursue a career in medicine as a physician. UNH has prepared me for my future career by providing me with experiences that I needed to build a competitive resume and create a foundation of understanding of fundamental biology and research. Furthermore UNH has given me the opportunity to be mentored by many amazing people who continue to serve as mentors beyond UNH.

What professor influenced you the most during your time here at UNH? Dr. Jeffrey Halpern, whose lab I worked in since sophomore year, has made the greatest impact on my experience at UNH. He has always believed in my ability and pushed my limits. In the moment I would often think that he was being hard on me, but I have come to realize that  he was pushing me to reach my true potential. He is a fellow Fulbright scholar and was the one who initially suggested that I apply. In addition he provided a significant amount of guidance through the process.

What course was the most difficult for you and why? Eukaryotic Cell and Developmental Biology taught by Dr. Charles Walker and Dr. Wayne Fagerberg. The class was very difficult because I had to memorize and understand complex cellular pathways. On top of the complexity of the material, the exams existed of a few open ended questions that often involved detailing entire pathways. It was also my favorite class as Dr. Walker and Dr. Fagerberg were clearly passionate about cellular biology and teaching. Their excitement and energy for the topic motivated me to challenge myself.