University of Kentucky Ph.D. student Maggie Murphy is a Lexington native who is committed to improving our nation’s health through novel research into nutrition and toxicology.
Several mentors inspired Maggie to pursue a career in nutrition. She credits teachers in high school with igniting a love of science within her, as well as her father who showed her the importance and benefits of good health. He challenged Maggie to take up running at the age of 12, and she grew to love the sport. Maggie has been an avid runner since then, and competes in several road races each year.
Maggie attended the University of Florida, where she completed a B.S. in Nutrition. From there, she returned home to Lexington to complete a Master of Science and Dietetic Internship in order to pursue a career of a Registered Dietician. During her internship, Maggie worked with many patients suffering from diabetes mellitus (Type 2 diabetes) and heart disease. She says, "while it was satisfying to encourage these patients to adopt a healthy lifestyle, I discovered a deeper desire to research the underlying causes of these diseases at the molecular level."
While pursuing her Master’s degree, Maggie also met Dr. Bernhard Hennig. She worked as his teaching assistant, and found an interest in the field of cardiovascular research. Dr. Hennig offered her a position in his lab while she pursues a doctoral degree. She now studies the molecular mechanisms of PCB-induced toxicity in an attempt to identify novel targets that protect against chemical insult, such as green tea or engaging in lifestyle modifications such as exercise.
Recently, Maggie won the Charles River Best Poster Presentation Award for a Ph.D. student at the Ohio Valley Society of Toxicology meeting in September for her poster "Exercise decreases polychlorinated biphenyl-induced cardiovascular toxicity in mice."