Stories from our Alumni

Steve GangloffI was immediately  drawn to Fredonia for its welcoming and personable atmosphere, small  class sizes, and focus on a customized and unique experience for each  student.  I had always heard involvement in college is necessary to  synthesize that true “college experience,” but to a shy freshman in a  new place, this was a scary task. Luckily at my first Fredonia“Activities Night” my apprehension was quickly overturned.  I watched in wonder as huge congregations of students swarmed into the center of  campus playing instruments, beating drums, and waving the banners of  nearly 200 clubs. That was my first step toward campus  involvement.  Ultimately, I became the president of the Biology Club and two national honor societies, and was an active member of many other  student groups. Through these outlets I was constantly involved in  events on campus, in the local community, and on a national scale. I  have flipped a boat white water rafting, jumped off a waterfall, planted trees for sustainability, marched for suicide prevention, and had a  severe-stage cancer patient hold my hand, look me in the eyes, and say “thank you”.   Through resources provided by Fredonia, I also performed  an internship at a local hospital, was employed as a tutor of Biology,  and started an online business.  

During my junior and senior years at SUNY Fredonia I was involved in a research project under the mentorship of Dr. Scott Ferguson in the fields of molecular biology and  genetics. The experience was incredibly rewarding on a professional and  personal level, and I shared information about my research with the  admissions board during my interview at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine.  Most of the interview was spent discussing my research,  and I feel that my knowledge and enthusiasm for the project played a  strong role in my acceptance.  In fact, the very next day I received a  letter from UB.  Out of 4000 applicants, I was one of only 144 accepted  into the medical school.

My undergraduate research has, and will  continue to, benefit me far beyond Fredonia. The medical world is  changing, and these days doctors are expected to know about genetics and molecular biology, and medical students are expected to be experienced  and comfortable with performing research. Furthermore, to be a  successful physician one must function both individually as a scientist  and collaboratively with his team, and he must think critically,  quickly, and sharply for his patient’s sake.  My research experience at SUNY Fredonia has already planted the seeds for this necessary personal  growth.  Further, aided by this vigor for research and wealth of  experience, I was awarded an NIDDK scholarship to perform research at  the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School during the summer  of my first year of medical school.  This is the foremost diabetes  center in the world, and the award was given to only six medical  students in the country.

The SUNY Fredonia Biology Department  faculty and staff supported me through my struggles, and shared in  celebrating my successes.  I was fortunate to have such wonderful  and beneficial opportunities right at my fingertips. I am grateful to  the caring and invested professors in the biology department at Fredonia, who do a wonderful job providing their students with  scientifically relevant, legitimate, and progressive education and  research opportunities. Thanks to Fredonia, I have embarked toward  fulfilling my dream to become a physician, and for that I could not be  more grateful!'

Steven Gangloff B.S. in Biology, SUNY Fredonia, Class of 2012 University at Buffalo School of Medicine, Class of 2016


Alicia WatsonI graduated from SUNY Fredonia in 2012 with a B.S. in Molecular Genetics and a minor in Chemistry, and am currently a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Studies Program at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine. The most important part of my education at Fredonia was the two years I spent researching protein-mRNA interactions during oogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster in Dr. Scott Ferguson's lab.

While it's one thing to read about science in a textbook, or learn about it in lectures, nothing compares to having the opportunity to actually conduct your own research. It's not like labs you do for class-- there is no "right" answer, no known endpoint or outcome. You design your own experiments to answer an unknown. There's nothing more satisfying than knowing that when you see your result, that is the first time anyone has ever seen it. You're not reading about the cutting edge of science--you're right there, blazing the path.

While you can conduct research at most any university, what makes the research environment at Fredonia special is the environment. Everyone in the Ferguson lab was like my second family. We would study together, spend late nights in the lab together, and go out on the weekends together. When someone had a great success, we all did. Every time one of us got accepted into a graduate program or medical school, you could count on someone baking cupcakes or decorating the lab, and everyone coming together to celebrate. Even though many of us graduated and are now scattered about at graduate and medical schools throughout New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, we're all still very close, and will continue to be for years to come. I wouldn't trade my time spent in Dr. Ferguson's lab for anything. It gave me not only the knowledge and experience necessary to get into one of the top biomedical research graduate programs in the country, but also a sense of close comradery I know I would not have had at any other university.

Alicia Watson
B.S. in Molecular Genetics, SUNY Fredonia, Class of 2012
Ph.D. Student, Cellular and Molecular Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Cellular Approaches to Tissue Engineering Research Trainee, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health


At SUNY Fredonia I studied smallmouth bass population genetics. Throughout the four years I conducted research at SUNY Fredonia I learned many valuable techniques both in the field and the lab. I was able to harness the power of population genetics to answer important ecological questions about smallmouth bass using these techniques. As with anything it takes practice to be good at what you do. My research project provided me with the opportunity to hone skills I learned in SUNY Fredonia’s Biology classes and labs. These techniques have proved very useful for my career. I believe that my research endeavors at SUNY Fredonia gave me a competitive edge when applying to Ph.D. programs because research experience is an important factor assessed when applying. My advisor and other professors involved in my project at SUNY Fredonia were great people to ask for letters of recommendation which are often required for post graduate work/studies. All in all, the education I received at SUNY Fredonia prepared me very well for my doctoral studies at Oregon State University.

Nick Sard
B.S in Biology, SUNY Fredonia, Class of 2009
M.S. in Biology, SUNY Fredonia, Class of 2011
Ph.D. student, Fisheries Science, Oregon State University


Lindsey WittmeyerAs a Medical Technology major, I took a variety of challenging courses, including Immunology,

Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, Advanced Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Disease. I also got involved with campus clubs such as the Biology Club, Chemistry Club and the Tri-Beta Honor Society. Challenging myself with these courses and participating in the organizations helped me to develop close relationships with the faculty who became my most important mentors throughout the years. To complete my degree program, I performed a year-long clinical internship at Rochester General Hospital. After completion of the internship, I graduated with my bachelors degree. I also took and passed my certifying exams for state licensure and national certification. I now have an amazing job as a Medical Technologist working for the University of Rochester Medical Center Microarray Comparative Genomic Hybridization Laboratory.   

I have come to realize that one of the best parts of my education is the way the Fredonia Biology faculty went out of their way to make sure I had the optimal educational experience needed to become a successful scientist.   I truly feel that the education and support from my professors completely prepared me to take on my chosen career in Medical Technology. If you are a student considering a Medical Technology or Biology major, I hope you will decide to attend Fredonia and that you will also take advantage of all the opportunities this prestigious department has to offer! 

Lindsey A. Wittmeyer, MT (ASCP)
B.S. in Medical Technology, SUNY Fredonia, Class of 2012
Medical Technology Certification, Rochester General Hospital, Class of 2012
Medical Technologist – Microarray CGH Laboratory – University of Rochester Medical Center


Leah & ReeceEver since I was a child I wanted to be a veterinarian. When I started to look at colleges and

universities, I knew I wanted an affordable institution with a Biology program that would help me reach my dream. After looking at multiple SUNY school Biology departments, I found Fredonia to have the one best suited for me. It is a small, closely knit department, and I discovered that all the Biology professors knew my name at the end of my freshman year – even professors I had not had for class! 

Fast forward to present day – I graduated with my degree in Biology from SUNY Fredonia, and am now a student at the Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Many factors contributed to my obtaining this goal.   For example, every SUNY Fredonia Biology professor here is willing to help you when you need it. They also push you to find the true potential that you don’t even know you have yet.   Fredonia has lots of research opportunities and internships. I was an intern at the Fredonia Animal Hospital for two years, and this really helped strengthen my application to veterinary school. There are many campus clubs and groups for students, and some are associated with specific career paths.   I was a member of the Pre- Health Professional Club, and this organization helped give me a clearer understanding of veterinary medicine, and how to effectively apply to professional school. 

SUNY Fredonia prepared me well, and gave me the confidence I needed to get into The Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine, and I am grateful for it! 

Leah Kerns Webb
B.S. in Biology, SUNY Fredonia, Class of 2012
Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2016


Alex Ladowski and graduatesAs a previous member of the Biology Adolescence Education and the Biology Thesis M.S. programs at SUNY Fredonia, and a current high school Biology Teacher, I cannot express in words what a tremendous education I received to help train me for my career as not only an educator, but perpetual scientist as well. I now have the fortunate privilege of teaching not only high school level Biology, but also AP Biology, and SUNY Fredonia has prepared me well to handle the rigors of teaching such a demanding course in terms of content and time constraints. I regularly reference my experiences at SUNY Fredonia to my AP Biology classes, including my two chances to study abroad in Costa Rica and the Bahamas. The Biology and Education professors that I had over my 6 years at Fredonia were some of the most influential people in my life, and have allowed me to understand concepts and ideas that have shaped me as an educator, scientist and person. I have no regrets about my decision to choose SUNY Fredonia to further my education, and always recommend it to all of my students that wish to get a wonderful science education that will prepare them for whatever career they eventually choose.

Alex Ladowski
B.S. in Biology Adolescence Education, SUNY Fredonia, Class of 2008
M.S. in Biology - Thesis, SUNY Fredonia, Class of 2011
Biology Teacher, Mount Mercy Academy, Buffalo, NY


Fredonia was instrumental in propelling my academic and professional career forward to where it is today.  During my undergraduate career, I was able to design and perform a series of self-directed experiments that ultimately led to my Honors Thesis and a peer-reviewed publication.  Following upon this work, I was able to design and perform another series of field experiments that earned me both an MS in Biology from Fredonia and another peer-reviewed publication.  These experiences together helped to both build my reputation as a proven researcher and helped to earn me a spot in Penn State’s highly competitive Entomology Department’s PhD program – and that leap was critical in moving my career forward to running an internationally-known laboratory.  That Fredonia offers these types of experiences is a testament to how valued students are, and to the high quality of faculty mentorship that is expected by the University.  I was also able to benefit from incredible learning experiences such as a field ecology course taught in Yellowstone National Park and directing laboratory undergraduates and helping to build managerial skills.  In short, Fredonia’s Biology Department really is a gem.  The hands-on experiences, close camaraderie among faculty and students alike, and excellent mentorship by professors all create an environment where students can truly excel. 

Jonathan Lelito, Ph.D.
B.S. in Biology, SUNY Fredonia, Class of 2003
M.S. in Biology, SUNY Fredonia, Class of 2006
Facility Manager
United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services
Emerald Ash Borer - Biological Control



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