Published on December 13, 2023 by Diamond Nunnally  
Photo Courtesy: Madelyn Thompson
Photo Courtesy: Madelyn Thompson

Environmental Science alumna Madelyn Thompson '23 is starting at Auburn University in January 2024 for her master's in entomology. She got a graduate research position in the Bee Lab on campus. Read her answers below to learn more about her fantastic opportunity. 

How does it feel to have been selected for this position?

"I am really excited about this position because of the opportunity to promote conservation of native species in my home state. I also look forward to continuing my lifelong passion of learning about plants and insects."

What will you be doing?

"I'm pursuing a master's degree in entomology as a researcher in Auburn's Bee Lab. My research focuses on best management practices for growing wildflowers to attract and support native pollinators. The USDA funds the project with the goal of making recommendations to farmers in the southeast about how to use the innate benefits of our native flora and fauna."

What career are you pursuing, and how is this opportunity preparing you for it?

"My goal is to be a biologist focusing on southeastern plants and animals. This position is the perfect step in that direction."

How did your education at Howard College prepare you for this opportunity?

"My education at Samford has been super valuable and unique. I had a lot of flexibility in choosing classes as an environmental science major. I was able to take electives in computer science, minor in GIS and take classes in philosophy through the University Fellows program. This flexibility allowed me to develop skills to become a well-rounded professional. I also took biology classes that fit my interests and were very well taught (and had small class sizes), including plant taxonomy, invertebrate zoology and environmental science."

Has a Samford professor impacted or mentored you along the way?

"I have had amazing mentorship from several Samford professors. Biology professors Dr. Bakkegard and Dr. Davenport have nurtured my love for the natural world and helped me become the scientist I am today. I learned a lot about botany and curating plant collections by helping Dr. Davenport in the herbarium. Dr. Bakkegard's advice about internships and grad school encouraged me to apply for positions that were the stepping stones to this one. My education at Samford allowed me to gain specialized skills needed for this position while gaining expertise in other areas to be a well-rounded candidate."

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.