Megan Monko (Warwick)

Entering Class - 2016


Undergraduate Institution and Major:

Coe College, B.A. in Biology, Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience

Graduate Advisor:

Sarah Heilbronner, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience

Graduate Research:

My research utilizes tract tracing to reveal anatomical connections to infer homology between rodents and nonhuman primates. I am interested in understanding the connectivity of frontal areas and retrosplenial areas, which are involved in motivation and decision-making.


Patrick Rothwell, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Lihsia Chen, Ph. D., Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development
A. David Redish, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Nicola Grissom, Ph.D., Department of Psychology
Sarah Heilbronner, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience

Undergraduate Awards:

Dean’s list: Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015; Outstanding Biology Senior Award; Member of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa

Undergraduate and Post-bac Research:

I had several research opportunities as an undergraduate, including the study of how psychological stress under a chronic variable stress paradigm or an acute stress paradigm increases markers of neuroinflammation, conditioned drug-seeking behavior, and the cocaine deprivation effect. I also performed some immunology-related research. My favorite was the study of neuroinflammatory markers because the faculty member was right out of his post-doctoral studies, and I was able to help him start his research laboratory at the college.

What got you interested in research?

Since I was a child, I have always wanted to be a research scientist. When I was in sixth grade I read a Scientific American article about mirror neurons, and I have been on that path since. Being in the lab feels like home.

Why did you choose MN?

I chose Minnesota after seeing presentations by some of the faculty at the Midbrains Conference during my junior year. The faculty are well-rounded and collaborative. In addition, Itasca is a great opportunity.  Minnesota is also home of the best lindy hoppers (dancers) in the world, and when I have time outside of school, that is what I do for fun.

Student Mentor and the Best Advice They Gave.

Zoe Christenson Wick: When I was struggling to find a first rotation, she gave me a list of people to contact.

Megan Monko