UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mackenzie Moon of Enon Valley, Pennsylvania, will be honored as the student marshal for the Eberly College of Science during Penn State’s 2018 spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 5, on the University Park campus. Moon’s faculty escort for the commencement exercises will be Richard Ordway, professor of molecular neuroscience and genetics at Penn State.
Moon will graduate with a 4.0 grade point average and a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in psychology. She was a Schreyer Honors College Scholar, and a member of the dean's list for every semester at Penn State. Moon’s honors and awards include the Schreyer Academic Excellence Scholarship from 2014 to 2018; the Penn State Provost Scholarship from 2014 to 2018, a Pugh Scholar Senior Award in 2017; the Edward C. Hammond Jr. Memorial Scholarship for academic achievement for 2016 and 2017; the J. Ben and Helen D. Hill Memorial Scholarship Fund, awarded on the basis of nomination for research achievement, in 2016; the Louis A. Martarano Endowment for Education Abroad, awarded by Eberly College of Science, in 2016; and the President’s Freshman Award, for outstanding freshman earning a perfect 4.0 GPA, in 2015.
While at Penn State, Moon conducted research in Ordway’s laboratory using fruit fly genetics to better understand how genetic and environmental factors interact in degenerative disease. She was a co-author on a research article on this topic, published in the journal Disease Models & Mechanisms. Moon’s thesis project focused on the identification and characterization of a mutant fly, which exhibits a marked resistance to environmental stress-induced degeneration. By identifying the mechanisms that confer this protection, she hopes to gain insight that can be applied to the development of gene-targeted therapies for degenerative diseases, whose burden on public health is projected to grow substantially over the next few decades.
In addition to her academic achievements, Moon was a member of Global Public Health Brigades, an international movement of university students working to improve health conditions in communities throughout Central America and West Africa. With Global Brigades, she traveled on two separate week-long medical/public health hybrid trips to rural, medically-underserved regions in Panama and Honduras where she helped run medical clinics with local physicians and build infrastructure to reduce transmission of preventable diseases. Moon was also a patient floors and emergency department volunteer at Mt. Nittany Medical Center from 2016 to 2017; a summer counselor at Royal Family Kids Camp in her hometown, a camp designed to provide kids in the local foster care system with a week of positive memories in a safe, supportive environment from 2013 to 2017; and participated in two academic study abroad experiences. She studied cancer biology in Beijing, China, as part of a month-long course (BIOL 416) via the PSU-Peking University exchange, and met with and interviewed French holocaust survivors and members of resistance efforts as part of an embedded spring break course in Paris, France. Moon was also a tutor for an adult learner studying for the GED through Honors English 202BH, an intensive course on literacy and literacy-related issues; a learning assistant for BMB 401; and a teaching assistant for Honors BIOL 230M.
“I was beyond excited to be selected as student marshal for a college that I love and honored to represent the Department of Biology and the Eberly College of Science,” said Moon.
After graduation, Moon will attend medical school at the University of Pittsburgh, where she plans to continue to be involved in research.
“I feel lucky to have been a part of a university that offers so many academic, research and service opportunities along with world-class faculty,” said Moon. “The support and encouragement of friends and faculty who have pushed me to be my best has been integral in shaping me into the person I am today, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to this community.”
Moon, a graduate of Mohawk Jr./Sr. High School in Bessemer, Pennsylvania, will be accompanied at commencement by her mother, Jamie Moon; her father, Douglas Moon; and her grandmother, Janet Yost.