McQuillan Helps Launch "Hype Your Research" Program

McQuillan Helps Launch "Hype Your Research" Program

Woodruff_McQuillanMollie McQuillan

Mollie McQuillan’s new undergraduate course on gender identity and minority stress in the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) was featured as part of The Graduate School’s (TGS) inaugural “Hype Your Research” program.

McQuillan, a doctoral student and Presidential Fellow, co-taught a session of her innovative new class with special guest TGS Dean Teresa Woodruff, a world-class researcher, associate provost for graduate education and Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Feinberg School of Medicine.

“It was an honor to watch Dean Woodruff in action and be part of this collaboration,” McQuillan said. “Few schools in the country are as forward thinking and interdisciplinary as Northwestern.”

The Graduate School’s “Hype Your Research” program highlights innovative labs, classes, seminars, discussion sections and more. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are creating a “transformative environment for learning and discovery” can apply. Winners receive a guest visit from Woodruff during their class and may be eligible for a recommendation letter from The Graduate School.

McQuillan developed her course, “Gender Identity Development, Minority Stress, and Policy: An Interdisciplinary Perspective,” after undergraduates requested more classes addressing issues related to gender minorities.

Though it’s unusual for a graduate student to be the primary instructor in an undergraduate class, SESP Dean David Figlio, Assistant Dean Susan Olson, and Jeannette Colyvas, director of undergraduate programs, worked quickly and offered tremendous support to make it a reality, McQuillan said.

“I love being back in the classroom and interacting with the SESP undergrads,” said McQuillan, whose position helps her connect undergraduate and graduate education. “The students have engaged in some difficult and complex topics. It has been a lot of work but very rewarding.”

During the most recent class with Woodruff, McQuillan focused on the central question of access andWoodruff_McQuillan facilitated a rousing discussion over the relationship between discrimination policies and health.

Woodruff, founder and director of the Women’s Health Research Institute who coined the term “oncofertility” to describe the merging of oncology and fertility, then introduced her own research, which focuses on preserving fertility throughout a cancer diagnosis.

Describing herself as “intellectually fluid,” Woodruff explained that her research has expanded to include discussions regarding transgender fertility preservation.

“Biological parenting is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” she said. “There are multiple ways to parent, through biological and non-biological options.”

Woodruff highlighted how McQuillan’s course bridges the gap between horizontal learning, which is at the heart of the undergrad experience, and vertical learning, or building on new knowledge to ask the next question, a common feature of graduate education.

McQuillan, meanwhile, enjoyed hearing how Woodruff’s leadership has led to collaborations and how her research has been applied to fertility preservation for adolescent transgender patients.

“In just ten minutes, she was able to bring us from reviewing the basics of reproduction to how she branded “oncofertility” as she built a movement to support research related to fertility preservation,” McQuillan said. “We all learned a lot; it was a truly special experience to co-teach this class with her.”

Photos by Bonnie Robinson.



By Rich Cohrs and Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 5/24/18