#ThisIsWhatAScientistLooksLike


 

Megan Tompkins
Megan Tompkins, Microbiology and Immunology Major
By Pelle Muñoz

Meet Megan Tompkins, Secretary and Public Relations Officer for the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and Spring 2022 Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry Showcase award winner.

Megan describes her decision to attend UTSA as nothing short of serendipitous, and is very pleased with the experience. "I have absolutely no regrets coming to UTSA, it has been the best four years."

Megan believes that UTSA is different from many other institutions because of the community it fosters. She feels that UTSA has provided opportunities that would be nearly impossible to find at many other institutions.

"I have never been surrounded by so many people of different backgrounds, and through this I have learned so much beyond what was taught in a classroom," said Megan.

Megan chooses to define her major in microbiology and immunology as a specialized biology degree. She particularly enjoys the ability to take more microbial-based electives in addition to the required prerequisites for biology majors. Megan also recognizes the relevancy of the microbiology and immunology major to the state of current events. "What I love most about this program is that it is a smaller community within the College of Sciences, and this has allowed me to better connect with the faculty."

During her time at UTSA, Megan has had the opportunity to present her research at three conferences. Among these was the Spring 2022 UTSA Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry Showcase where she won the People’s Choice and 3rd Place Awards for her oral presentation on Rational Design and Synthesis of Steroid Analogs Based on the Taccalonolides.

"Even though I have moments of doubt, this presentation showed me how capable and worthy I am to be participating in research."

Megan also utilizes her range of skills to better the community and help children. Megan’s involvement with ASM allowed her to host volunteer events at Garcia Middle School, a local middle school located in Northwest San Antonio, that would open the door for many students to become immersed in the world of microbiology. Similarly, her experience as a camp counselor at Camp Discovery, a summer camp dedicated to offering children with a chronic skin condition a one-of-a-kind camp experience, allowed her to connect with the community and help shape minds.

Like many students, Megan has struggled with impostor syndrome. "A piece of advice I have received from a mentor at UTSA was to never sell myself short," said Megan. "I tended to place myself in a box of comfort." With this advice, Megan was able to explore possibilities she wouldn’t have entertained before.

"By changing my perspective, I have received more opportunities than I could have imagined."

Currently, Megan is working with medicinal chemistry under Doug Frantz, a Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and head of the Frantz Group at UTSA. Megan's research includes the novel synthesis of steroid analogs based on taccalonolides, a class of natural products. "I have been working on this project for a little over one and a half years," said Megan. "Working with Dr. Frantz made me realize that my true passion lies in research."

In the near future, Megan hopes to attend graduate school and earn her Ph.D. in immunology with a specialization in auto-immune diseases. "I look forward to learning and growing as a research scientist," said Megan. "I highly encourage anyone who is interested in trying research to reach out to different professors to learn more about their journey!"

 


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