Rebecca Hodnett’s love and curiosity for the life sciences started at an early age. She spent countless hours exploring outside and caring for animals, which instilled in her a curiosity for the intricacies of life and living organisms.
Hodnett always desired a career path that would impact and help people, and the most obvious way was to pursue these topics was a degree in biology. Five years later, and after realizing medical school was not for me, I graduated from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches with a BS in Biology and a BS in Education.
“Up until my last semester of undergrad, I had no intention of attending graduate school, but I had the privilege to work alongside my undergraduate mentor and quickly realized my love for research,” Hodnett said. “The opportunity to ask questions in pursuit of the unknown, to understand the marvelous complexity of life and living things, is fascinating, and when you are able to find a pathway to answers with real potential to benefit people and society, it allures and compels you. This evolved my aspirations towards possibilities in biological research, reminding me of the curiosities that started my love for biology.”
During her time at Louisiana Tech, Hodnett said she has encountered a graduate student community full of comraderie and diversity and a faculty that truly cares about their students.
“I have had the privilege of working under Dr. Jamie Newman in the Newman Lab engaging in original stem cell research and developing interdisciplinary projects to involve and inform the community of real and relevant science, including an interactive children’s book about stem cells,” Hodnett said. “Because of the hard work and investment of all the faculty here, I have come face to face with interdisciplinary opportunities that I never expected to have when I started Louisiana Tech, which I am very thankful for. For me, this unlikely combination has become about challenge, growth, and opportunity to link science and discovery with the need to share, educate, and invest in others, for current and future generations of research and discovery. With this motivation, my future endeavors include pursuing a PhD and eventual professorship so that I can one day provide the kind of insight, encouragement, mentorship, and support my past and present advisors have given to me.”
Hodnett said students thinking of pursuing a graduate degree should understand what motivates them.
“When you recognize this, you identify a purpose which lends ways that only you can contribute to your field,” Hodnett said. “Find an advisor you work well with, a project you care about and can contribute to, and go for it!”