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NDFS Honored Graduate: Meghan Crowther’s Academic Journey to Medicine

A pale woman with red hair wearing a beige shirt and cardigan smiles
Photo by Tanner Frost

Meghan Crowther (NDFS ’24) had a folder with over twenty different graduation plans. She debated long and hard about what field of study to pursue: linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, biochemistry, sociology, or nutritional science. She already knew she wanted a career in medicine so she could make a difference in people's lives, but she wasn't sure how to get there. Crowther ultimately settled on nutritional science because she was fascinated by how the major combines all of her interests: social, chemical, metabolic, and biological sciences.

Her academic passion for learning started as far back as high school. “For me, learning about cellular respiration and photosynthesis in ninth grade was a spiritual experience,” Crowther reflected. “I remember sitting at my desk and feeling, ‘God is so cool!’ I was grateful for the fact that I'm alive and I'm human. I was hungry for science mentors who are also faithful individuals.” Crowther has since reveled in the spiritually strengthening education she has received in BYU’s hallowed halls.

As a nutritional science student, Crowther's studies focused on nutrient metabolism, biochemistry, nutrigenetics, genomics, and chronic disease. She feels she has learned how to articulate the body’s needs more accurately. “How do you actually help people? You educate them,” mused Crowther. “Knowing about how we're built, how we work, and how our choices affect our health, both physical and mental, is my mortal passion project.”

Passion for Human Health

A pale woman with red hair wearing a beige cardigan smiles while climbing the stairs
Photo by Tanner Frost

Membership in the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) buttressed her burgeoning medical yearnings. Crowther served as co-president of AMWA and made it her goal to increase the number of BYU women who apply to medical school. She wants to provide a space to answer the question, “is it possible for me to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, a good family member and mom, and also be a physician?” The club holds open discussions and networking events to support women seeking to become doctors.

“One of my most memorable experiences at BYU was sitting in rooms with women who are like, ‘Can I do this?’ and saying, ‘Yes, you absolutely can!’” Crowther enthused.

Because of her love for medicine, Crowther not only took anatomy but also became a teaching assistant for the course. The content reinforced her medical acumen. “Taking anatomy gave me the power and self-efficacy to realize I can conquer academic challenges,” she stated. “I left anatomy feeling empowered.”

As a teaching assistant coordinator, she spent a lot of time in the cadaver lab. She felt that the lab had a special and almost sacred feeling since all of those people had donated their bodies to science. Crowther also met her husband while working with him in lab training.

Learning Through Discovery

Her passion for learning about the body bled into her work in Dr. Jeffrey Barrow’s lab. The lab focuses on developmental biology—how the genetic code determines the structure of anatomical features. Because chickens develop in an egg outside of the mother's body, the research team can watch the effects of induced genetic mutations during the incubation period. Crowther worked on the plasmid team, designing bacterial constructs to introduce new genes into chick embryos. Participating in the process allowed Crowther to connect more with God's creations on a microscopic level.

A pale woman with red hair wearing a beige cardigan smiles
Photo by Tanner Frost

Crowther peripherally worked in Dr. Timothy Jenkins’ lab, aiding in the study attempting to differentiate between menstrual and circulatory blood using DNA methylation. The research fortified Crowther’s desires to use science to solve social problems.

Crowther has also worked outside of BYU to further her academic prowess. One study sought to increase cultural representation in pediatric medical education materials at the University of Utah through the RUUTE program. She found that the materials were Eurocentric and needed to be more inclusive of all demographics in the United States. She presented this research with her team at the national Pediatric Academic Society meeting in May 2023 and at the Intermountain Health Equity Symposium at Primary Children's Hospital in January 2023.

Additionally, Crowther had the opportunity to go to Boston and work at the Massachusetts General Hospital looking into kidney metabolic pathways last summer.

Service and Looking Forward

Working with South Franklin, a portion of Provo's United Way, has helped Crowther serve in the local community. She loved connecting with and supporting local families in whatever they needed from piano lessons to reading clubs. She shared that she never "felt more at home in Provo until I actually started going out and meeting people. I used to think you had to go somewhere far away to do meaningful service, like work for Doctors Without Borders. I discovered that all I had to do was go next door or down the street."

Crowther looks forward to attending medical school postgraduation. Because of her academic journey at BYU, she feels well-equipped to apply. A quote from President Russel M. Nelson motivates her as she prepares: “A doctor is really functioning at [her] highest level when [she} is teaching [her] patient what is wrong, if anything is wrong, and what can be done about it. The doctor’s duty is to discern and to teach.”