Biology

Meet Patrick O’Toole: Ursinus College Senior Who Got Accepted Into Five Graduate Programs

Even amid the COVID-19 crisis, Patrick O’Toole (’20) was still able to receive the good news that he was accepted into five graduate programs for public health.

Patrick O’Toole, a Biology major, has a strong interest in public health which stems from growing up in rural Pennsylvania in the Appalachian Mountains. Patrick stated that seeing so many underrepresented people in these rural areas sparked “a desire to obtain a degree that could benefit the community [he] grew up in.” Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, public health has been put on a bigger display, and Patrick is proud to note that a few of the schools he has been accepted into for his graduate programs have emerged as leaders in COVID-19 research. Patrick also mentioned that in his graduate program, he wants his research to focus on “rural public health, but specifically how the harvesting of fossil fuels like coal and natural gas negatively affects the health of communities in Appalachia.” He believes it will be hard to decide which school to attend, but says it really “comes down to which school is the best fit for [him] and [his] research aspirations.” When asked “who is someone at Ursinus that has helped you along your journey,” Patrick stated that every professor and faculty member he came across has influenced him in some way, but one person that stands out is Dr. Kathryn Goddard. As his academic advisor and mentor in research lab, Dr. Goddard was always there to help Patrick out, even when things were not smooth sailing. Patrick also noted that Dr. Cory Straub’s Conservation Biology course is a large part of the reason why he wants to further his education by looking into environmental factors that affect health.