Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Robert Manguso

New graduate Robert Manguso won a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research at the University of Copenhagen with scientist Lotte Pedersen.

Discovering a passion. I didn’t particularly enjoy science classes in high school, and I definitely never saw myself studying the sciences in college. When I transferred to Wheaton, I decided to start by taking the introductory biology courses and quickly found that I was fascinated with biology. But it wasn’t until I joined Professor Morris’s lab that I became interested in pursuing a career in research.

Expanding horizons. I came across Lotte Pedersen’s work during my junior year at Wheaton while doing research in Professor Morris’s lab. Her lab is one of the pioneering labs studying the assembly of primary cilia and the ciliary coordination of signaling pathways, so I quickly became well acquainted with her work.  The research being conducted in her lab is very similar to what I had been researching at the time in Professor Morris’s lab.

Making the connection. Last summer while I was working at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole as a course assistant for the Physiology course, I met Jacob Schrøder, a student from the University of Copenhagen, who was doing his Ph.D. thesis in Lotte Pedersen’s lab. We hit it off and he raved about working with her. Jacob told me that I should definitely contact Dr. Pedersen, so I sent her an e-mail and she quickly responded, saying that she would be happy to have me come to her lab.

The attraction. The experience of designing an experiment and being the first person to see an unknown naturally occurring process is incredibly exciting, and it is that possibility which motivates me to do research.  The field of ciliary research is exploding because of the large number of diseases recently found to be associated with cilia and breakthroughs in understanding we have made within the last decade.

Right now. Again this summer, I am working as a course assistant at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole.  It’s my ideal summer job because I love to spend time on Cape Cod. It’s also really cool to meet scientists from all over the world and sit in on lectures about data that may have been generated only days before.  The scientists that are involved with the course are some of the most accomplished scientists of our time. It’s been really fun here this summer because there are three other students from Wheaton College working in Woods Hole.