The Pursuit of Science

Ever since Madison was a child, science has always been her forte. Now she's getting ready to walk across the stage with a degree in biology from the College of Sciences and Engineering at the University of South Carolina Aiken on Dec. 14th.

Zimmerman said she wanted to attend USC Aiken after touring the campus and falling in love with the science department. "I loved that they specifically had the molecular biology concentration and that since it was a small school there was ample opportunity to join a research lab." she explained, going on to add: "I also loved how the professors seemed passionate and invested in the future of their students." She cited this as the main reason for transferring to USCA in her Junior year, instead of attending a larger university.

Zimmerman's passion for genetics started after the birth of her five-year-old sister. "When my mother was pregnant, Doctors thought she had Trisomy 13 and my mom thought she was going to lose the baby" she explained. "Thankfully, my sister was born completely healthy, but the experience sparked a motivation to want to understand what causes genetic mutations and what we can do about it."

As a first-generation graduate from Philadelphia, Zimmerman shares that she feels both excited and anxious about her accomplishments. She expressed gratitude for various opportunities such as receiving the Magellan Scholar Award, INBRE, SSI, and attending the Evolution 2023 Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She also credits the Dr. Garriet W. Smith Scholarship for supporting her educational journey. "The reason I was financially able to continue schooling was because of the Dr. Garriet W. Smith Scholarship. I also had the opportunity to meet him, and found him to be incredibly intelligent and kind."

She emphasized that her goal is to make it to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in Human Genetics. "Right now, I've been exploring genetic disorders and complex trait labs," she said. "Honestly, I thought USC Aiken would help me narrow my focus, but instead, it just broadened it. There are so many different avenues I could go into. I'm so excited even though I don't know exactly where I'll end up, because I love the entire field."

When asked what advice she leaves for students, Zimmerman says don't be afraid to ask for help from the professors. "They're invested and want to see you succeed. So many of them are not only willing but happy to help."

USC Aiken will hold the December Commencement at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14th, in the university's Convocation Center. 

For more information, contact Angela Saxon,