Morgan Gibbs has found the perfect balance at UGA. The Goldwater Scholar has had a laser focus on research from her first day on campus, and she also finds great enjoyment as a member of the Redcoat Band.
Peachtree City, GA
B.S.Chem. in Chemistry, minor in Pharmaceutical Sciences
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
At UGA, I started participating in research my freshman year and have never looked back. I have been a member of Dr. Arthur Roberts’ laboratory for over two years now. In his lab, I study P-glycoprotein, a multidrug resistance transporter protein that is significant in cancer. My first research accomplishment was receiving the CURO Assistantship in summer 2015. Receiving that award was validation that I was on the right path and that I was pursuing something that I was good at.
The next summer, I was accepted as one of 68 into the St. Jude Pediatric Oncology Education summer internship program, where I spent a summer in Memphis, Tennessee, doing research on novel antibiotic drug leads. At St. Jude, I discovered my passion for drug design and discovery. It was an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life and that has surely shaped my career path. I returned to UGA that fall, and the Roberts lab published a paper on which I am the second author! I then won the CURO Assistantship a second time.
Most recently, I was awarded the Goldwater Scholarship in April 2017. I am so, so thrilled to be able to say that I am a Goldwater Scholar. I have worked tirelessly to accomplish my goals in research, and I am proud to say that I have finally achieved my biggest one by winning the Goldwater. The next few steps for me are a summer internship at the NIH, and hopefully a first author paper in the Roberts lab! Research has been an integral part of my life at Georgia, and I am eternally grateful for the research opportunities that the university and CURO have worked so hard to make available to undergraduates.
In addition to research, I am also involved in the Redcoat Band. I have played trombone for 11 years now, and I love it more and more every year. This past year, I served as a rank leader in the band, and I will continue to serve as one this coming year! In addition, I am also on the UGA basketball and volleyball bands, and I was in the UGA trombone choir for a year. I have made some of the most fulfilling relationships in my life through band. It’s amazing to me that people of all majors and backgrounds can come together four times a week to make music together, and I wouldn’t trade anything for running onto the field with 400 of my closest friends. Redcoats has made me who I am. It has given me leadership experience, but more importantly, it has been life training. My experience at UGA has been greatly enriched because of the Redcoat Band.
I have also served the UGA Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society as Kids ‘n’ Chem chair and currently as vice president. Kids ‘n’ Chem is a program that goes to local elementary schools and does hands-on chemistry experiments for the kids. My time with the kids was extremely important to me because I believe that more kids need to be exposed to science at an earlier age, particularly little girls. I didn’t have a program like Kids ‘n’ Chem when I was in elementary school, but had I, I may have become interested in science at a younger age. For some of these kids, this program could influence their future career choice. I felt amazed and excited to be a part of that, and as president of the club next year, I hope to help expand the program and garner more interest for the club.
Academically, I have received the Zell Miller, Charter and National Merit Scholarships in addition to CURO Assistantships and the Goldwater Scholarship. I am also a member of Blue Key and Phi Beta Kappa Honor Societies.
The University of Georgia has shaped me in countless ways, and I will forever be thankful for the opportunities my alma mater has given me to flourish and succeed, both academically and socially. This university means more to me than words can express.
I currently work for the Roberts laboratory in the Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Department as a student assistant and undergraduate researcher.
Family Ties to UGA:
My mom’s side of the family were actually Florida fans (that’s painful to say), but in middle school I had a teacher who was a UGA fanatic. Because of him, my love of UGA began, and thankfully I made the right decision and came to UGA!
I chose to attend UGA because…
I have loved UGA for a long time, and I know it sounds cliche, but after visiting UGA I just knew it was where I needed to be. I wanted to be at a large university because I wanted to meet people from all walks of life, from all backgrounds and interests. In addition, Georgia is an excellent research institution, and I knew that CURO would allow me to pursue my dream of doing research. At the core of my decision, however, was the UGA Redcoat Band. After watching videos of them for so many years, I had to become a part of Redcoats. Coming to UGA has allowed me to participate in activities both academically and socially that have changed my life.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
On a normal day, I love walking through campus, from the science library to Sanford Stadium to North Campus. Sometimes I just sit near Herty Field and watch people walk by, or I’ll stick my feet in the fountain. But my favorite part about UGA’s campus has to be game day in Sanford Stadium. There’s no feeling like walking through all the tailgaters to Sanford, performing the Dawg Walk, and then going into the stadium and cheering on the Dawgs with 92,746 people. Nothing can top that feeling for me.
When I have free time, I like…
… exploring Athens! I love going to new restaurants and tasting all the delicious food Athens has to offer. I also like visiting all the cool, quirky parts of Athens like the Iron Horse or the swing behind Pulaski Heights. I enjoy walking around all the amazing local businesses and boutiques here. You can’t catch me walking out of a Georgia-themed store without buying something!
The craziest thing I've done is…
I’m really not a crazy person! Most of the time you’ll find me at home reading or working on some project. But I did move to Memphis for a summer last year, which was a big deal for me! I worked at St. Jude, and I absolutely loved it. Being in a new city without anyone from home was definitely scary, but I loved Memphis and the people there and I would go back in a heartbeat!
My favorite place to study is…
… definitely the science library! Shoutout to my ochem friends who stayed there with me until 2 a.m. every day my freshman year. It’s got such a great atmosphere, almost like a coffeehouse but for studying! Also, it’s super close to Snelling for when I get hungry after a late night studying.
My favorite professor is…
… Dr. Arthur Roberts! He has been instrumental in my coming this far with my science career. He was adventurous enough to let me come into his lab as a freshman, and ever since, he has given me such freedom and autonomy in his lab. He is always pushing me to do more with my science, and he’s always there to help me when I need it! In addition, he’s given me the opportunity to become first author on a paper, which will be one of my greatest accomplishments in college. I truly feel accepted in his laboratory. Dr. Roberts has shaped my entire future with his mentoring and guidance, and I cannot thank him enough.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
… the Obamas! They seem like such classy, funny people. I would love to talk to them about something other than politics, like their family life or how writing their own books has gone! I feel like they could give such amazing life and career advice as well. I would HAVE to play some basketball with Barack, and hopefully I could see their dogs too! In meeting with them, I hope I could convey how inspirational they have been to me personally as well as the nation.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… learn to play the piano! Despite many years of musical training, I am still not very good at the piano. I would love to be able to sit down and play my all-time favorite piano song, “Clair de Lune” by Debussy. I’d also love to be able to play for my parents. My mom plays a little piano, and I would definitely play for her if I could.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… take a road trip around the United States! Though I have been to around 20 states, I want to see more of what the U.S. has to offer. I would love to take a tour of the best national parks and see some cities in between! Taking a few months to spontaneously go wherever I wanted in the U.S. would be a dream come true.
What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?
I would really like to help push towards a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. My grandmother suffered from this terrible disease, and seeing so few treatment options on the market breaks my heart. I’d like to go into Alzheimer’s research to find a drug that could help slow the progression of or even cure this disease.
After graduation, I plan to…
… attend graduate school and get a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry or a similar field. I would really like to pursue a career in drug design. I hope to go into academia and become a professor eventually.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
In the fourth quarter of the Georgia Southern game my sophomore year, the entire band got the stadium to “Light Up Sanford” with their phone flashlights when we played “Krypton.” It was so amazing seeing the whole stadium with their phones lit up, cheering on the Dawgs. In that moment, my love for this school just took over. I still get chills just thinking about it. I will always remember the feeling I got seeing the school I love come together like that.