Senior Biology major Alyssa Phillips: CAS Corps Feature of the Month

The CAS Corps are chosen to  serve as representatives to all constituents of the College of Arts and Sciences and to create, promote and execute opportunities for academic and professional growth. These students represent a variety of departments from across the College of Arts and Sciences and  will represent the College at events through interaction among current students, future students, parents, donors and alumni. Each month of this year we will be introducing one of our eleven students representing the college in a question and answer format. This month, meet Alyssa and learn about her study abroad and research experiences. For more about the CAS Corps, visit:

Major: Biology - Cellular and Molecular Biology

What clubs or organizations are you a member of:
Operation Smile, Tri Beta, Biological Honors Society and Honors College

What sports or hobbies do you participate in:
Hiking and running

What scholarships have you received from Appalachian or while studying at Appalachian:
Office of International Education Scholarship, Office of Student Research Travel Grant

What locations have you completed a study abroad or study away:
Australia and New Zealand

What research have you been most passionate about:
I am developing a method to count chromosomes in three genera of grass. This will allow us to study the genome plasticity within and between these grasses.

What are you most excited about this semester:
Between graduate school interviews, Operation Smile’s Singing for Smiles event, and presenting my research at the Association of Southeastern Biologists, it is tough to choose!

What do you feel has been valuable in your education at Appalachian versus another institution:
The opportunity to conduct my own independent research. At many large universities, undergraduates must work under a graduate student. Here at Appalachian, I’ve been working on my own project for 2 years.

Can you tell us about a transformational experience you have had at Appalachian:
I went abroad with the Biology department this past summer to Australia and New Zealand. This was my first opportunity to see such grand levels of biodiversity and all of the conservation efforts passionate individuals were making to protect it. This experience changed the course of my career and I am now pursuing a doctorate in plant sciences so I may contribute knowledge that can help protect fragile ecosystems.

Can you tell us about one faculty member that has made an impact on your life and how:
Dr. Matt Estep welcome me into his lab my sophomore year. He had clear expectations; he wanted to see us put in effort into the lab. He has taught me the commitment, time, and passion required to do good research and always pushed me to do my best. He encouraged me to take advantage of every opportunity presented to me, while making sure I focus on my priories. I would not be the upcoming scientist I am without his guidance.

Can you tell us about one other connection you have made while at Appalachian- a friendship, mentor, colleague, a new found hobby or interest:
I would never have found my love for the outdoors without Appalachian. I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis and never had an interest in camping, hiking, or really anything outdoors aside from soccer. I went on my first hike to Rough Ridge my first month freshmen year and I haven't stopped since.

Senior Biology major Alyssa Phillips: CAS Corps Feature of the Month
Published: Feb 6, 2018 9:17am