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Susan Parrish
  • Professor of Biology

Susan Parrish

Contact Prof. Parrish

My passion for science began in fifth grade, when I was asked to bring an environmental water sample to class. Imagine my delight when we found that my sample contained the most beautiful microscopic organism that I have ever seen, the volvox. I was hooked! As a first-generation college student at UMBC, I was fortunate to work in Dr. Daphne Blumberg’s laboratory where I studied RNA regulation in the social amoeba. Dr. Blumberg encouraged me to pursue a Ph.D. and has served as my mentor throughout my career. I decided that I also wanted to become a college professor to give back what I was so graciously given.

During my graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University in Dr. Andrew Fire’s laboratory, I investigated the mechanism of RNA interference (RNAi). Dr. Fire received the 2006 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of RNAi, a gene-silencing mechanism that holds immense promise as a human therapeutic. As a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Bernard Moss’ laboratory at NIH, I studied novel viral mRNA decapping enzymes that allow viruses to overtake their host cells.

At McDaniel, my students and I have continued to work on mRNA decapping enzymes from viruses and the social amoeba. We have also studied RNA regulation in yeast and the tiny dot chromosome of fruit flies. Many of my students have won awards at scientific conferences for their research presentations. Whether in the classroom or the lab, my work with undergraduate students is where I find my happiness.


Ph.D. in Biology, Johns Hopkins University
B.S. in Biological Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Research Interests

  • mRNA decapping enzymes in the Giant Viruses and the social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum

  • mRNA decay and chromosomal rearrangements in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

  • Annotation of the Drosophila

  • dot chromosome (in collaboration with the Genomics Education Partnership)

Recent Courses

  • BIO 3311: Advanced Genetics-Molecular
  • BIO 3312: Genomics and Laboratory

  • BIO 2208: Molecular Biology and Laboratory

  • FYS 1109: Our Unseen Enemies: Emerging Viruses

  • BIO 1111: Principles of Biology

Selected Publications

  • W. Leung … S.Parrish, K. Bickford*, J. Bland*, J. Broussard*, K. Campbell*, K. E. Deibel*, R. Forka*, M. C. Lemke*, M. B. Nelson*, C. O’Keeffe*, S. M. Ramey*, L. Schmidt*, P. Villegas*… (272 authors total)…S.C.R. Elgin. 2017. Retrotransposons are the major contributors to the expansion of the Drosophila ananassae Muller F element. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. 8(9), 2439-2460.

  • S.C. Elgin, C. Hauser, T. Holzen, C. Jones, A. Kleinschmit, J. Leatherman, The Genomics Education Partnership (...S. Parrish...). 2017. The GEP: Crowd-Sourcing Big Data Analysis with Undergraduate Students. Trends in Genetics. 33(2), 81-85.

  • W. Leung …(1014 authors total)… S. Parrish, A. Baker*, A. Beckett*, J. Bryant*, T. Conrad*, A. Fearnow*, C. Gomez*, C. Grove*, R.A. Herbstsomer*, S. Hirsch*, N. Howard*, S. Imakando*, C. Johnson*, M. Jones*, R. Kabaso*, J. Langley*, E. Lemmon*, C. Marques Dos Santos Vieira*, D. McFarland*, C. McLaughlin*, A. Morgan*, W. Neutztling*, C. Paluskievicz*, J. Penn*, E. Peoples*, C. Pozmanter*, E. Reed*, L. Schmidt*, M. Shelton*, T. Tirasawasdichai*, B. Undem*, D. Urick*, K. Vondy*, B. Yarrington*, ...and S. Elgin. 2015. Drosophila Muller F elements maintain a distinct set of genomic properties over 40 million years of evolution. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. 5(5), 719-40.

  • S. Parrish, M. Hurchalla*, S. Liu, and B. Moss. 2009. The African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) g5R protein possesses mRNA decapping activity. Virology. 393, 177-182.

  • S. Parrish and B. Moss. 2007. Characterization of a second vaccinia virus mRNA decapping enzyme conserved in poxviruses. Journal of Virology. 81, 12973-12978.

* denotes McDaniel College Student

Clubs and community involvement

  • Pre-medical, Pre-dental, and Pre-veterinarian Studies Advisor

  • Faculty Advisor to the Student Pre-Health Club

  • Faculty Development Committee

  • Teaching Analysis Poll Moderator

Awards and Honors

  • The John Desmond Kopp Endowed Professor in the Sciences, McDaniel College (2016-2020)

  • Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Fund Award, McDaniel College (2019, 2018, 2017, 2015, 2014, 2012)

  • Phenomenal Woman Award, McDaniel College (2012, 2009)

  • Fellows Award for Research Excellence, National Institutes of Health (2006)

  • Dean's Teaching Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University (2001)

  • Magna Cum Laude, University of Maryland Baltimore County (1994)

  • Outstanding Graduating Seniors in Biological Sciences award, University of Maryland Baltimore County (1994)

Susan Parrish

Contact Prof. Parrish