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Undergraduate Programs

Meet our Spring 2021 Student Marshals:
Rachel Swope

Image of Rachel Swope

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is proud to recognize Rachel as a Student Marshal for the 2021 Spring Commencement!  The daughter of Beth and Jeffrey Swope, Rachel is a graduate of Central Bucks High School West in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.  She is a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major and has earned her spot on the Dean’s List a remarkable seven times over her undergraduate career.


After graduation, she will be attending Harvard University where she will work to earn her Ph.D. in its Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program.  Her hope for the future is to become a professor at a large research university.


Congratulations Rachel on being named a Spring 2021 Student Marshal, and also for serving as a wonderful of example of why We Are Penn State!


Read more, below, about Rachel's remarkable undergraduate career.

I was surprised and honored to hear that I had been selected as a student marshal for BMB. Penn State is a large school with a lot of exceptional students, so I never expected this kind of recognition.
Rachel Swope
Spring 2021 Student Marshal


Commencement Faculty Escort:

What impact has/did Dr. Rolls have on your undergraduate career?

"Dr. Rolls has been an amazing mentor to me in the 3+ years I have been doing research in her lab. Working with her and in the Rolls lab has shaped my undergraduate experience, future goals, and research interests. Dr. Rolls has taught me how to think through and pose scientific questions, consider ethics and scientific rigor, and communicate my research in writing and in speech. She also supported me and offered insight as I navigated the graduate school application process. She is an amazing scientist who I hope to emulate in the future."

What is the most important lesson/memory/observation that you will take with you from your time at Penn State?

"My time at Penn State has taught me the importance of finding great mentors who support me, believe in me, and push me to be better. I would not be where I am today without all of the amazing mentors I have found at Penn State. I feel inspired to pass this on to others by mentoring and supporting younger students in science."

Undergraduate Honors and Awards:

Extracurricular Activities or Honorary Society Memberships:

In what laboratory did you conduct your research?


What was your research topic, and can you describe for our audience your research activities?

I study axon and dendrite regeneration in Drosophila larvae in Dr. Melissa Rolls’ lab (for past ~3.5 years). In my first year in the lab, I carried out a screen for a reporter of dendrite regeneration. My current project explores the role of the Exocyst and endoplasmic reticulum in axon regeneration. I also contributed to a large project that identified a novel mechanism for local nucleation of microtubules at dendrite branch points, which we published in March 2020.