2022 Alum Becomes a Biologist

Posted by Caroline Lanni on December 7, 2022 at 11:00 AM

Recent graduate, Michael Pawson ‘22, graduated this past May and has accepted a position at AbbVie in Worcester as a Biologist II. 

Born and raised in Fitchburg, Pawson always knew of Fitchburg State University and attended here due to it being local to him. 

Additionally Pawson attended this university because he was also a member of the Fitchburg High School Honors Academy which “granted me automatic acceptance into the university as well as their Honors Program. Fitchburg State also has a welcoming campus and is affordable,” he said. 

Pawson was a commuter all throughout college being that he lived so close to the campus. 

Pawson obtained a bachelor's degree in Biology and chose to major in that because he always had an interest in nature and animals growing up. 

“After completing AP Biology in high school, I fell in love with research and laboratory experiments. I knew that Fitchburg State had a relatively new science facility so majoring in biology was a no-brainer,” he said. 

In the future Pawson hopes to go into laboratory research and potentially become a physician assistant.

Pawson said that he is very grateful for Fitchburg State. 

“The university has provided me with resources that I needed to have future success. From the facilities, faculty, and fellow classmates, I have not only gained professional experience and knowledge but have created life-long memories,” he said. 

The Biology department and professors have given Pawson not only academic advice but also career/personal guidance and he will be forever grateful for their help, he added. 

Pawson’s thesis was titled, "'The Role of Neutrophils in Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome in Correlation with COVID-19.' Basically, I was interested to know if the immune system played a role in increased disease severity in Sin Nombre Virus and SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus). In the lab, we cultured HL-60 cells and induced them to differentiate into neutrophil-like cells for studying our poses. Through research, we found that neutrophils, which are cells that make up the immune system, played a role in causing hyperinflammation and tissue damage. Essentially, the immune response was responsible for disease severity and the 'sickness' that people infected with these viruses were experiencing."

Pawson’s advice for first-year students would be to, “have good time management. The pace of college is much faster than that of high school so it is good to practice time-management skills. It also helps to find a healthy balance between school and socialization. Try not to spend too much time on academics and make time to hang out with friends and socialize. College is more than academics; it is an experience that should be enjoyable.”

Pawson would like to thank Dr. Elizabeth Kilpatrick as his thesis advisor for his senior Honors Thesis and said that she was extraordinarily helpful in the research and laboratory process. 

“Her enthusiasm for the material and genuine concern for her students was incredible. Dr. Kilpatrick not only guided me academically but also gave me advice on future careers and personal issues that I was dealing with. I cannot thank Dr. Kilpatrick enough,” he added.

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