Margaret A. Titus

Professor, Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development

Margaret Titus in her lab with a bucket of test tubes on ice.

Margaret Titus has been called the heart and soul of the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and Genetics (MCDBG) graduate program, but students in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics are also in her debt. She was instrumental in combining the two programs to coordinate recruitment, admissions, and the first-year curriculum.

First up is the Lake Itasca summer course. There, students in both programs learn the ropes in their sciences, bond with future friends and colleagues, and get to know faculty personally, in a relaxed atmosphere. Titus, who served as director of graduate studies and co-DGS in her department for more than five years, also directs two other required courses for MCDBG students.

“For Meg, engaging with students personally is key to helping them learn why they are pursuing science and what really motivates them,” says a former student.

First-year students in particular are in transition from accepting what they learn as settled fact to being prepared to critically challenge ideas and results. My goal is to provide guidance for them during this journey.—Margaret A. Titus

With international faculty, Titus developed training courses in cell biology and biochemistry that introduce students in Latin America to research and to U.S. and European scientists. With colleagues, she designed a course in grant writing—the scientist’s lifeblood—for first-year students. She also coordinated an overhaul of the all-important Preliminary Examination to assess students’ potential for independent thinking during their thesis projects.

“My own career … owes nearly everything to my time as a graduate student in Meg’s lab,” writes another former student.

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