RCSJ-Cumberland Alumna Takes Research Efforts to COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Joshua Gras, Writer / Follow South Jersey Higher Education Intern

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

VINELAND, N.J. — In 2012, Emily McGee graduated from Rowan College of South Jersey’s Cumberland County campus, which was then known as Cumberland County College. Since then, she has been working at a pharmaceutical company running out of Pennsylvania where she researches emerging viruses, including COVID-19.

McGee’s current path would be a surprise if you had asked her what she would doing when she first enrolled in college. In high school, she had no desire to pursue any type of science, but things took a turn for the unexpected when she first got to RCSJ-Cumberland. McGee found that biology, and microbiology soon after, had sunk its hooks into her.

McGee wasn’t just a student at the college. She’s also a mother of three and, according to RCSJ microbiology professor Dr. Mark Randa, she scored top marks as well.

McGee credits her current achievements to her time at CCC. McGee says that without the hands-on approach that teachers can give their students, thanks to smaller class sizes, she wouldn’t be where she is today.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I did not start my college career out at CCC,” she told RCSJ. “Going to the school gave me confidence and the small class sizes allowed me to truly engage in classes and with the professors. I learned so much at the College and I have carried that knowledge with me through my career.”

As a research microbiologist, part of her job is making sure products such as vaccines are not contaminated by harmful organisms like fungi or bacteria. McGee says that, although her contributions aren’t as major as the chemists who created the vaccines, she is proud that her contributions get to help people “on a global scale.”

“I joined volunteer panels, signed up for trials, and helped spread the most current information,” McGee said. “So, when our team took on the COVID projects, I was overjoyed. I felt like I could finally do something to make a difference and help save lives. “My contributions pale in comparison to the chemists who create the formulas for these life-saving vaccines and medications, but it’s very fulfilling to know that I’m helping on a global scale.”

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.