Faculty and Staff Spotlight

Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Daniel McDermott

Dr. Daniel McDermott joined the Southern Arkansas University Biology Department in the Fall of 2018. Daniel received his B.S. in Biology at Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska. He then attended the University of Iowa, received a Ph.D. in Immunology, and then joined the University of Colorado for his postdoctoral training. Daniel then moved to Magnolia to begin working at SAU, where he currently teaches Principles of Biology, Microbiology, and Immunology. Daniel advises Pre-Health students and introduces them to possible career paths in the medical and healthcare fields. Daniel’s background growing up in rural Nebraska prepared him to work with students from rural communities. “Growing up in a rural community, I was unaware of the different opportunities that a biology degree would afford me until I got to college. For me, it is important to introduce our students to the different career paths they can take so they can be fully prepared in making the choice for their future career.” Daniel also oversees a research lab primarily involving undergraduate students, examining immune cell activation and characterizing the snake immune system. Lastly, Daniel has a strong commitment to service to all levels of the University and the surrounding community, earning him the Spirit of SAU Award in 2020 and the Auburn P. Smith Service Award in 2022. “I love SAU because it is a place where I can not only teach students, but I can get to know my students, introduce them to research, and to the many career paths they can choose with their degrees. This allows me to make meaningful impacts on their education and their journey towards their future career.

Staff Spotlight – Marcela Brunson

Marcela McRae-Brunson graduated from Southern Arkansas University with a BBA in Accounting in the spring of 1993. Two days later, she began her full-time career as a secretary in the Office of Financial Aid. From student worker to director of financial aid, and with many positions in between, Marcela has called SAU home for almost 30 years and counting. Although she possesses a fierce work ethic, SAU has taught her tenacity, empathy, and leadership; these qualities were gifted and reinforced by the administration and colleagues along the way. “I love working at Southern Arkansas University because of the commitment to our students and each other,” Marcela raved. “We organically create a family, and I believe that concept will always be a part of our legacy. My two favorite times of the year are freshman orientation and the commencement ceremonies. Both occasions allow me to feel rejuvenated and proud to be a part of this University. Assisting in funding higher education for students allows us to touch lives while increasing the value of our community and beyond.” Marcela notes that SAU has taught her several aspects beginning as a 20-year-old and continues to do so. “Be committed to something bigger than yourself because the possibilities are endless when all can dream; our legacies are all intertwined, so keep supporting and lifting each other up; and lastly, we all have a superpower. Use it for good.” Marcela concluded, “Although being the director of financial aid is challenging, being a part of this movement is rewarding. It is an honor to be recognized, so thank you for the opportunity to share my love of the blue and gold!”

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