2017 Tillman Scholar
A deep sense of patriotism motivated by the events surrounding 9/11, and a family tradition of Naval service, prompted Marquerite to enlist in the Navy. As a sonar technician conducting deep water passive surveillance she gained a strong appreciation for scientific research. Following nine years of honorable service, Marquerite felt she could continue to serve the greater good by pursuing a full-time career in science.
As she completed her undergraduate studies, Marquerite began work as a research assistant at Camp Pendleton, working closely with Marines as they returned from Iraq and Afghanistan deployments. With a team of neuropsychology and behavior specialists, she conducted investigations on patients and their caregivers dealing with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and combat induced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These studies gave her a unique perspective on the physical and emotional challenges service members undergo when returning to common social situations and family interactions.
Marquerite’s work with these patients coupled with her passion for research led to her current Ph.D. studies at the University of Texas at Arlington, concentrating on the molecular basis of behavior. Her goal is to uncover fundamental genetic mechanisms that contribute to chronic depression, self-destructive addictions, and PTSD-like behavioral conditions that tend to plague military communities. Her long-term ambition is to become a faculty member at a university where her research and teaching can help veterans, active duty military personnel, and their families as well as set an example for women and minorities pursuing STEM careers.