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Dylan McClung ’15

This senior biology major possesses a stellar résumé. Receiving an Honorable Mention for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, two national awards from the American Society of Microbiology (ASM), participation in the Research in mcclungScience and Engineering (RiSE) program at Rutgers University, and a presentation award from the Tri-Beta NE District 2 Convention, Dylan McClung is an important member of TCNJ’s Biology program. He exhibits the strength, leadership, and dedication both in and outside of TCNJ.

In addition to his awards and recognition outside of TCNJ, McClung shows great involvement in the TCNJ community. McClung has been involved in Dr. K.T. Elliott’s research since his sophomore year, is a PERSIST Scholar, leads TCNJ’s Tri-Beta Chapter as President, and works for Residential Education and Housing as a Student Manager of Residential Operations.

McClung’s ability to balance his academics, research, and other involvements have contributed to his organization and time management skills.

“But I really think it comes down to passion.” Dr. Elliott stated. “He is passionate about all of the things that he’s involved in and he just makes it happen.”

“Dylan has also taken advantage of every opportunity he could,” McClung’s advisor and mentor continued. “We talked early in his time in my lab about the fact that if you don’t apply for awards, honors, and opportunities then you have a guaranteed 0% success rate for winning them. He seems to have taken that to heart and isn’t afraid to put himself out there . . . That attitude has really paid off with all of his accolades and achievements.”

How did this student find himself in the TCNJ Biology program?

“I guess I have to give credit to my sophomore biology teacher who pressured me to take AP Biology,” McClung reminisced. Although he always had an interest for science, it strengthened after taking the higher level course in high school.

“In high school, I thought about getting my Ph.D., but I didn’t really know what a Ph.D. really entailed until I started doing research with K.T.”

Dr. Elliott’s work focuses on using the soil bacterium Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1 as a model organism to help answer questions about microbial genetics. McClung has been an independent research student in her lab for over two years and studying the YqgF protein in their model bacterium, which they hypothesize is involved in cutting DNA during recombination.

mcclung2“I like the fact that nobody has studied what we are doing. These are new questions.” McClung stated as he explained his research. “I like the act of discovery.”

“I don’t know when it happened exactly. At some point in junior year, I thought this [lab] is the place for me.” McClung’s time during the TCNJ Mentored Undergraduate Summer Experience (MUSE) after his junior year solidified his pursuit of a Ph.D., specifically in Microbiology.

Currently in the midst of interviews, McClung hopes to study bacterial pathogenesis. “I love bench work and I loved working with bacteria.” McClung and his fellow labmates shared a laugh.

Despite his many successes and obligations, McClung still maintains modesty and strong relationships with those he works with. Mackenzie Mosera (’15) works alongside McClung in Elliott’s lab and spent long hours in lab during the summer in MUSE.

“Working with Dylan in the research lab has been so great!” Mosera added her MUSE experience, “There wasn’t a day that went by that we didn’t learn something new and end up hysterically laughing. Dylan brings a great sense of humor and an awesome personality to any environment.”

Mosera also praised McClung for his dedication to the TCNJ Biology program and research through taking the time to mentor shadows and being involved in Tri-Beta for four years.

McClung expressed his love for the department. “The Biology program has a close community in terms of the faculty. I feel comfortable talking to them and I feel that they are genuinely interested in me, what I am doing, and my successes.”

mcclung3As someone who has worked with him for three years in research, Dr. Elliott is impressed by the growth and maturity of the young scientist. His passion, curiosity, and friendly personality create a fun learning environment in the lab.

When he is not busy mentoring fellow TCNJ biology students, leading Tri-Beta, or working in the lab, McClung enjoys binge-watching television, reading, and running. He had won 2nd place for his age group in a local 5K and is preparing for a half-marathon in May with Mosera.

– Danielle Leng

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