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Meet our new faculty: Megan Girtman, biology

August 31, 2021

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Megan Girtman ’06, Ph.D., joined Saint Mary’s University as an assistant professor of biology on Aug. 23.

A 2006 undergraduate alumna of Saint Mary’s biology program, Girtman has spent the past 12 years working in cancer research. She is excited to bring her real-world knowledge to the classroom.

“One of the best things about being a biology teacher is the ability to apply what we learn in the classroom to scientific experiments in the lab,” said Girtman. “Even if students do not choose a science-related career, the ability to use the scientific method in practice is a valuable life-long skill that can be used to ask and answer questions about the world around them.”

Girtman’s previous experience includes course-contracted teaching at Rochester Community and Technical College. She was also recently a postdoctoral fellow at the Kabara Cancer Research Institute at the Gundersen Medical Foundation and previously a postdoctoral fellow at Mayo Clinic.

“I am particularly interested in understanding the interactions between immune cells and cells within the tumor microenvironment. I believe that if we can learn more about what types of cells are present and the interactions they make with one another, we can customize therapies that enhance the antitumor response,” Girtman said.

Her lab experience includes training technicians, undergraduate, and graduate students, visiting physicians, and other postdoctoral fellows. She earned her Ph.D. in immunology from Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, an accomplishment she is particularly proud of.

“When I started graduate school, I already had a family, and during graduate school, I welcomed two more children. I was fortunate to have mentors that understood the importance of supporting students who were working hard in school while also balancing family life,” she explained. “I am proud I was able to be my own advocate and have a rewarding graduate school experience, and I was incredibly blessed to have my three kids and husband present when I walked across the stage to receive my diploma.”

As a Saint Mary’s alumna, Girtman said her own teaching philosophies strongly align with the Lasallian core principles.

“As a Saint Mary’s undergraduate student, I felt privileged to be receiving such a high quality of education from hard-working, compassionate teachers and staff members. I am looking forward to being a part of the incredible staff in the biology department and I hope to continue the legacy of providing superior education while developing life-long bonds with the students at this university,” Girtman said.