Laura Sheard

Laura Sheard(2002)


Muhlenberg College (2003-2007), BS in Neuroscience. University
of Washington (2007-present), PhD in Pharmacology (pending)

Employer/Job Title

Graduate student in Ning Zheng’s laboratory at the University of


2007Honors in Neuroscience (resulting from thesis and oral defense) Muhlenberg College NaN
2007 Fulbright Scholar Finalist, India
2006 Phi Beta Kappa (National Honor Society for Academic Excellence)
2006 President’s Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement, Muhlenberg College
2005Barry M. Goldwater Foundation Scholar for Excellence in Undergraduate Science NaN
2005Student Summer Study Grant for Neuroscience Muhlenberg College NaN
2003-2007 RJ Fellows Honors Program, Muhlenberg College


I grew up in rural Carbon County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of a soil scientist and a secretary. I always loved science, and utilized my public education for as many opportunities as I could. Even so, I had completed all of the advanced science courses that my school had to offer by my junior year of high school. Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences was one of few places that was willing to take an outstanding student like myself, and challenge me with higher level science and math without requiring that my family provide monetary support. My family has always lived on modest means, and it was difficult to ask them to pay for a supplement to my high school education. PGSS gave me that supplement that I needed, introducing me to different opportunities in sciences that I had never been exposed to previously, guiding me to my current career path. Most importantly, however, PGSS taught me that excellence in science is the result of hard work, not of economic privilege. Even though I had very little to fund my education, I could still succeed if I worked hard and took advantage of opportunities as they were presented. Having a prestigious program like Governor’s School on my resume meantthat I did not have to settle for a community 2nd tier college, but allowed me to gain entrance in some excellent private universities, with a great deal of merit-based scholarship aid that I earned to pay my way through my undergraduate education. From there, I was accepted to very prestigious graduate programs to earn my PhD. I am now well on my way to a career as a biochemist and structural biologist, with an eye looking to settle back in Pennsylvania when it comes time to establish my career and my family. Pennsylvania needs smart scientists, who work and build their families in our great state. By removing one of the few opportunities for talented Pennsylvanians of all economic backgrounds to come together and ignite their interest in pursuing science and scientific careers, we lose some of our hope for a better future. Education is not a fad, or a passing fancy. We do not educate our children only in the good times. Please don’t allow a crisis that is happening presently to call us away from what we need for the future–our next generation of gifted scholars.