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Class of 2020: Randy Hilleary

As captain of the Green Terror men’s soccer team during his junior and senior years, Randy Hilleary led the team to two ECAC tournaments, yet the Biology major still found time to conduct research in cancer-drug discovery with Chemistry professor Dana Ferraris and win and complete a competitive National Science Foundation research experience investigating how vertebrates form a specific number of vertebrae during development.

Randy Hilleary Class of 2020

Randy Hilleary, from Bonney Lake, Washington, is a Biology major specializing in Molecular Biology and minoring in Chemistry.

When I took my first step on the Hill, I was: a nervous but excited freshman who did not know what I wanted to do in college.

The me who will ring the Old Main bell on Commencement Day is: ready to take on the real world and feels more confident in where I want to go with my life and what I want to do.

Real-world experiences: Throughout my four years, I have had the opportunity to participate in two different research experiences. At first, I did not know what research was or whether I even liked it, but Dr. Dana Ferraris encouraged me to try it out and gave me the opportunity to participate in research in his lab. After a summer of successes, failures, and new friendships, I knew I wanted to keep exploring what research was all about. This led me to landing an opportunity conducting research at the Ohio State University in the Molecular Genetics Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. In addition to research, my Jan Term volunteering at University of Maryland Medical Center in the Shock Trauma department was truly eye-opening and a fantastic experience. Interacting with physicians in a fast-paced and intense environment provided valuable insight to what it means to work as an emergency physician.

Aha moment: I never knew how close you can be with professors or coaches until I came to McDaniel. I always felt comfortable going to my professors for guidance and help with anything whether it was related to my classes or looking for jobs. Also, my coach was always there for me and my teammates on and off the field and would always support us any way he could.

Professor who most influenced who I have become: To me, I don’t think I can say one professor who influenced me most because I have had so many great mentors and advisors over my four years at McDaniel. From the moment I stepped into my Organic Chemistry classroom, Dr. Dana Ferraris has always been there to support me and guide me along my way. His door was always open which allowed me to go to him for guidance with school, life, or just someone to talk to and have a coffee with. In addition to Dr. Ferraris, Dr. Susan Parrish has consistently helped me find what I am passionate about and helped me achieve my goals. Lastly, Dr. Cheng Huang has been a big mentor for me, especially this past year. Dr. Huang is the kind of professor that will always challenge you to be the best you can be yet be the first person to help you up when things do not go your way. He showed me that no matter what, there are always ways to improve and more that you can learn.

Took me totally by surprise: During soccer preseason, the cicadas will always be the first thing to wake you up in the morning and the last thing you hear when you go to sleep.

My favorite spot on campus: My favorite spot on campus is the soccer field. This is where I took my first steps on the Hill when I first visited McDaniel and is where I always felt at home. I have made some of the best memories there over my four years.

My capstone: “Alternative Polyadenylation of the Hes7 3’ UTR Promotes the Oscillatory Expression Pattern Required for Somitogenesis.”

What it’s about: My capstone is about my research that I conducted during my time at Ohio State University. I investigated the gene Hes7, which is important for the process of somitogenesis during development. This research was aimed toward gaining a better understanding of how formation of the vertebrae and ribs are regulated during development to become evenly spaced once development is complete.

What it’s really about: Essentially, my capstone is trying to gain a better understanding of how all vertebrates (humans, fish, mice, etc.) make a specific number of vertebrae during development. By learning more about this process, we can better understand how conditions where there are deformities in people’s spines come to be.

About Randy

Name: Randy Hilleary

Major: Molecular Biology

Minor: Chemistry

Class of 2020