Morgan Timm '16


Name: Morgan Timm  

Graduating Class: 2016

Major: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, French

My Story: I grew up in Peoria, IL and showed up at Gustavus convinced that I would major in biology, go to med school, become an OB/Gyn, and provide primary care to Peoria’s many underserved women. While the OB/Gyn part has remained constant, pretty much everything else has changed. I majored in biochemistry instead of biology and tacked on a French major (a lifelong love of mine) for good measure. Gustavus’s chemistry professors convinced me to give research a go, and now I’m pursuing an MD/PhD instead of just an MD. I still care deeply about the problems of my home city; however, my interests no longer lie in primary care. Instead, I will tackle the somewhat daunting task of the physician-scientist: to bridge the gap between lab science and clinical medicine.

Every MD/PhD I’ve ever spoken to has mentioned how challenging it can be to have a career that inherently pulls you in two different directions. Luckily Gustavus is full of role models who manage to balance the disparate parts of themselves and help their students learn to do it too. I credit Gustavus’s liberal arts environment, and in particular the Three Crowns Curriculum, French department, and biochemistry professors, with encouraging the evolution of my interests and helping me find a way to merge them into what will (hopefully) be a meaningful and successful career.

Top Five Activities/Experiences: (in no particular order)

  1. Post-baccalaureate IRTA at the NIH (2016-2018) studying HIV vaccines
  2. Two years as a CF
  3. Undergrad research with Jeff Dahlseid
  4. Volunteering at the Mankato Emergency Department
  5. Shadowing at Mankato Clinic for the Pre-Health January Interim Career Exploration


  1. If you think you don’t like research, try again! I came into Gustavus thinking that I hated research and didn’t make any effort to take advantage of the many, many research opportunities that Gustavus offers its students. Fast forward to my junior year when the biochemistry and physical chemistry lab curricula forced me to do independent research projects....and lo and behold, I realized I liked it after all. The mentors at Gustavus are equal or superior to the mentors I met during my gap years at the National Institutes of Health. Definitely take advantage of their teaching skills while you still can!
  2. You certainly need a few basic things in order to be a competitive medical school applicant (clinical experience, science classes, etc.), but beyond that I think the most important thing is to be involved in activities that YOU are passionate about. For me, this was French Club, Building Bridges, and the Three Crowns Curriculum; for you that could be athletics, Gustie Buddies, or CAB. Your personal statement will be much easier to write—and more enjoyable for admissions officers to read—if you can write about the real impact you have had on an organization that you deeply about. Med schools want to fill their classes with people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse interests. Give them a taste of what your authentic self can bring to the table!
  3. I had decided by my junior year that I was going to take 1-2 gap years before starting medical school. That ended up being one of the most important decisions I have ever made. I spent two full years immersed in an extraordinarily productive, innovative, and well-funded lab at the NIH working on cutting edge vaccine research, and I know I matured immeasurably as a person and a scientist during that time. The amount of life experience that I have gained has only deepened my commitment to science and medicine. It also made me a much, much, much more competitive applicant. If you are dead set on matriculating right out of Gustavus, go for it. But if you have even an inkling that you might like to try something else for a year or two, I say lean in to it. I think you’ll be very glad you did.

Future Plans:

I am matriculating in Washington University in St Louis’s MSTP in summer/fall of 2018. I’ll be rotating in the lab of Dr. Indira Mysorekar this summer (2018) studying reactive oxygen species in the placenta. Currently I plan to do my PhD on something under the umbrella of women’s health and infectious disease; however, I have 2-3 years before I must choose a thesis topic, so that may change! Ultimately, I’d like to do an OB/Gyn residency and live life as a physician scientist, splitting my time between the clinic and the lab.