April 23, 2019 at 6:13 pm

Keogh Chooses Ph.D. Program for Research Opportunities, Faculty Mentoring

Rebecca Keogh, in lab

Rebecca Keogh

By Kelly Shockley ’19

In her past few years at Ohio University, Biological Sciences graduate student Rebecca Keogh has been a part of a lab that studies bacterial pathogenesis, with a specialization in Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

As one of the leading hospital acquired infections that are becoming increasingly dangerous, the MRSA issue is very important to Keogh. She claims that antibiotics just won’t cut it anymore at stopping these infections. She researches how to fight these bacteria and the diseases that they cause.

“We are asking the question of why is this bacterium so dangerous, what kind of things does it make that help it kill our cells or evade our immune system, and how do we stop it?” she says.

Rebecca Keogh in the lab with Dr. Ronan Carroll.

Rebecca Keogh in the lab with Dr. Ronan Carroll.

Keogh started her Ph.D. program in 2016. After getting her undergraduate degrees in biology and microbiology from Virginia Tech, she decided to attend Ohio University to study Cellular and Molecular Biology with Dr. Ronan Carroll, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Ohio University.

With Keogh’s experience and knowledge, she knew that a Ph.D. program was the right next step for her, and she came to Ohio University to work with Carroll.

“I knew that getting a Ph.D. in a microbiology lab involved a lot of research, so finding a mentor who I thought I could work well with was my top priority.” Keogh met Carroll at a conference as an undergraduate student, and he immediately stood out to her as someone she wanted to work with.

“Ronan was a brand-new faculty member, and it was evident from the time I met him that he was incredibly passionate about the research he wanted to do,” says Keogh. As his first graduate student, she knew she would receive a large amount of one-on-one mentorship. Making the leap into graduate school can be intimidating, but “Ronan was one of the only people I interviewed for that I felt really needed me … going on an interview and feeling like I was really recruited, not just being interviewed made all the difference. I felt important, and that was huge.”

When looking for a Ph.D. program that was right for her, Keogh learned a lot about the process. When asked what advice she would give to a soon-to-be graduate student, she says, “Start with your why and think about what is really motivating you to want to pursue a master’s or a doctorate.” Graduate school can be difficult and a lot of work. Not only is it a lot of time, but research also entails a lot of failure – so it is incredibly important to not only find incredible mentors, but to remember why you’re there in the first place.

“In order to get through that all I think it is so important that you know why you started. Remember what motivates you and do not let failures in research deter you from pursuing that goal. Failing is a part of why we succeed.”

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