Margaret “Molly” Dedloff, a 2016 graduate of Mount Mercy Academy and the class valedictorian, continues to distinguish herself at Clarkson University. Dedloff’s most recent accomplishment is winning one of just 496 prestigious Goldwater Scholarships that were awarded for 2019-2020 school year. Over 5,000 students were nominated by their universities for this award.
The scholarship program, which honors Senator Barry Goldwater, was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent undergraduate award of its type in these fields.
Dedloff was nominated by one of her professors at Clarkson and then had to undergo an internal competition for one of the school’s four nominees. She stated that the most important part of the application was the research essay which was written in the style of a peer-reviewed article and discussed a past experience. Dedloff wrote about the work that she does with Bordetella, which is the causative agent behind whooping cough and kennel cough. She was selected as one of Clarkson’s nominees and then informed via email that she had won a Goldwater Scholarship.
“The Goldwater Scholarship is the most competitive and prestigious scholarship for undergraduate students in STEM fields. It gives students up to $7,500 for tuition and books, but more importantly, it identifies future leaders in STEM fields,” Dedloff remarked. “It essentially gives students who win a huge leg up for graduate school.”
Graduate school is in the near future for the college senior. Dedloff intends to go to graduate school to get a Ph.D. in immunology/microbiology. She would like to focus on the interaction between pathogens and the host immune response and hopes to one day work as a professor in a university. Dedloff is uncertain where she will be attending graduate school in the fall of 2020 but is looking at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Penn State and the University of Georgia.
Dedloff is a dual major in biology and history, and will graduate with a biology degree and a history degree, as well as a minor in chemistry. Due to the AP classes she took at Mount Mercy, Dedloff came in with enough credits to be considered a sophomore. She was able to skip freshman biology and got ahead of her classmates in her major. Dedloff would have been able to graduate in three years, but elected to pursue a history major instead.
While at Clarkson, Dedloff has been named a Presidential Scholar all six semesters, maintaining an average GPA of at least 3.8. To no one’s surprise at Mount Mercy, Dedloff has a 4.0 GPA. She has also been awarded two Phalanx Commendable Service awards for dedication to the clubs that she is involved with and her strong commitment to the bettering of the Clarkson community. In addition, Dedloff also won the best poster presentation in biomedical sciences at Clarkson’s annual research conference and was also named a McNair Scholar, which is a program for first generation students and minority students to help them become leaders in STEM fields.
Many students would be intimidated as a part of a male-dominated major, but Dedloff credits her Mount Mercy educational experiences for her successes. “One of the big things that Mercy did was to teach me to have confidence in myself and to know that I am a strong woman,” Dedloff commented. “Being in a largely male-dominated school and working in a male-dominated field, sometimes I find myself in positions where I’m overlooked because I’m a woman but coming from a background where I was taught and nurtured among many strong women, I know that I am capable and I refuse to let anyone tell me that I am not.”
While at Clarkson, Dedloff has had a plethora of research opportunities, opportunities that were available partly because of her experiences with Mount Mercy’s Academy of Science and Health Care. Before their senior year, participants in the program must complete an internship.
“Before my senior year of high school, I thought I wanted to go into a healthcare field, but during the summer before my senior year I worked in a lab at Roswell Park,” Dedloff recalled. “While I didn’t really get to do much serious lab work because I was under 18, that limited exposure showed me that I didn’t want to go into a healthcare field. I realized that I wanted to work in a lab. This experience was really important in me getting my first position in a lab at Clarkson.”
During her first semester of her freshman year she worked in a lab where they examined the role HPV plays in causing cervical cancer. In her second semester of her freshman year she did a research semester at the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake, N.Y., where she made a dendritic cell vaccine for influenza. The summer following her freshman year, as well as during her sophomore year, Dedloff worked in a developmental biology lab where they looked at the intestinal development of zebrafish. This work resulted in a publication that is currently being reviewed by Developmental Biology.
The summer after her sophomore year, she participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates at the University of Georgia in the Infectious Disease Department where they are examining how Bordetella can manipulate the host immune response. This work resulted in a publication in Frontiers in Microbiology and is the work that she wrote about for her Goldwater research essay. In her junior year Dedloff worked in a lab where she used mitochondrial DNA to differentiate between closely related species of mussels. This study will continue this work when she returns to Clarkson for her final year.
This summer, she returned to the University of Georgia through the McNair Scholars program to continue the work she started last summer which has already produced a publication in Applied Sciences.
“I am so grateful for the many incredibly opportunities that Mercy gave me. Without the encouragement and support from so many of the great teachers at MMA, I would not be who I am today,” Dedloff concluded. “In fact, I still credit my high school freshman biology teacher with sparking my love for biology and starting me on this journey.”
Dedloff continues to excel and thrive. Her expectations for herself, as well as Mount Mercy’s expectations for her, are quite high, but there is little doubt that she will reach her goals.
She is the daughter of John Dedloff of Hamburg and Camille Lupa of Gowanda.