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HNU Faculty Spotlight
Dr. Laura McLaughlin, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

I enjoy sharing the experience of discovery with students. ”

– Dr. Laura McLaughlin, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Community Health Science Major Program Coordinator

Dr. Laura McLaughlin, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at HNU and Community Health Science Major Program Coordinator, has taught at Holy Names University since 2011. Her extensive background spans microbiology, biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, toxicology, and immunology. At HNU, she has mentored dozens of undergraduate biology students in independent research projects related to Salmonella pathogenesis. Her own research focuses on how bacterial pathogens (such as Salmonella and Staphylococcus) interfere with host cell migration and shape. Dr. McLaughlin earned her PhD in Biological Sciences in Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2005.

What is your area of research? 

Salmonella pathogenesis

[Fun fact: Salmonellosis, the infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella, is one of the most frequently reported foodborne illnesses in the United States. An estimated 1.35 million Salmonella cases occur annually in the United States.]

What drew you to your field?

I was introduced to the subject of Salmonella and microbiology in grad school and was fascinated by how such a small, deceptively simple organism can manipulate the complicated immune response of a mammal such as ourselves.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? 

I enjoy sharing the experience of discovery with students. When possible, I particularly enjoy mentoring students in research projects where students pose their own hypotheses and then we get to work together creatively to develop experiments to test those hypotheses. 

Due to COVID-19, how has the classroom experience changed for you? 

The push to offer classes online has pushed me to find more ways to make information accessible to my students. For example, I am making short instructional videos using Camtasia and uploading them directly to Canvas course sites. HNU’s Center for Teaching and Learning summer [faculty] trainings were very helpful.

Any advice for future biological scientists? 

Please don’t be afraid to ask new questions about the living systems around you, and (even more importantly) don’t let anyone discourage you from trying to answer these questions.  

Is there a “socially distanced” activity you recommend?

Bicycling