Assistant Professor of Biology Megan Doczi, PhD in her lab at Norwich UniversityAssistant Professor of Biology Megan Doczi, PhD, arrived at Norwich in 2011, shortly after receiving her PhD from the University of Vermont. She directs the neuroscience program at NU and teaches neuroscience and anatomy and physiology classes in the Department of Biology. Her research into the developmental regulation of potassium ion channels in avian hypothalamus neurons is funded by the Vermont Genetics Network. Outgoing, energetic and very busy, Doczi spent the summer writing research papers, supervising lab work, planning courses, and mentoring two undergraduate research fellows. We spoke to her recently in her second-floor office in Bartoletto Hall, amid the odd piece of lab equipment and quirky science art.

What sparked your interest in neuroscience?

The easiest and most heart-felt answer is high school psychology, I took this psych course with a few friends of mine as an elective. The instructor was a practicing psychologist and really, really interested in her discipline. Chapter two of our textbook was the neuron, and I just got stuck on that second chapter. I was like, “Wow, these neurons are amazing. I didn’t even realize how complicated these cells were. They’re so different than any other cells in the human body and I want to learn all I can about them.” So that was it. High school. I’ve been on the neuroscience track ever since.

What excites you about the field today?

The speed at which the technology is developing. We now have technology that we didn’t have ten or even five years ago, which is so much better at attacking the questions: How is consciousness even a phenomenon? How can neural networks communicate with each other? How are individual neurons able to metabolize different nutrient sources like glucose as a readout of their activity? We now have the capability of asking a patient a question and seeing what part of their brain lights up. The technology is just phenomenal and beyond what we could have imagined in the field decades before.

What questions do you explore in your research?

Personally I’m interested in ion channels, the small little proteins in the membranes of neurons that allow ions to flow through at different rates. They control the way neurons communicate with each other. So you can imagine if you have more or less of these channels, it will affect the function of the neuron itself. The set of neurons that we’re interested in looking at are part of feeding behaviors and the circuitry for food intake and energy expenditure in animals. So the main question of the lab is, If the expression and function of these individual ion channels changes in that population of neurons, will it actually change the behavior downstream of the animal? We’re looking at developmental time points. The model system we use in the lab is the embryonic chicken, which is really nice. Because what we can do is study early, mid and late gestational time points and see if the channels are changing. There’s a lot of evidence in the literature today that what happens during development impacts what happens as an adult. So if these organisms are exposed to high levels of hormones or metabolic factors, they might actually develop the neuronal circuitry in a different way that could even result in disease in adulthood.

What’s your pitch to students? Why study neuroscience?

There’s a lot known about most systems in the human body. We’re pretty comfortable explaining how the cardiovascular system works and developing pharmaceuticals to change blood pressure, etc. You can use that analogy for other similar systems. But we still don’t understand what actually happens in the nervous system to create things like consciousness or to instill survival skills in today’s society, for example. What makes someone more resilient than someone else? Or personality characteristics? All those things are still unknown. You can’t just give a pill and fix the nervous system like you might be able to with other systems of the human body.

I think that unknown component of the nervous system and the brain, in particular, is kind of what draws me to the discipline. And I hope I communicate that enthusiasm to my students as well. I just love when they ask questions that I can’t answer. Because nobody can answer some of the questions that they’re asking, and those are the questions that need to be asked.

Any parting thoughts?

It’s important for students to be scholars and lifelong learners. It’s important to our society to have curious thinkers, free thinkers who don’t take information at face value but know how to critically analyze that information, fact-check that information. And that goes beyond neuroscience. That’s just making an informed citizen. There are so many hot topics today. Climate change is one of them. Vaccination is another. If we can just basically graduate students who know how to think about information, challenge information, and even create new information based off of researching topics, then we’ve done our job, regardless of discipline.

So when you graduate from Norwich, I don’t care if you’re a neuroscientist, a chemist, a literary scholar, or a historian, as long as you know how to really analyze information, ask the right question and move society in a positive direction, I think that’s really what I’m interested in as a professor and what a lot of other faculty members are interested in here.

Norwich University student researchers are using commercial and in-house designed equipment and on-campus manholes to collect and analyze sewage samples for COVID-19. (Photo by Mark Collier.)

NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Norwich University has developed a team and process for testing wastewater on campus for early detection of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19

NORTHFIELD, Vt. — On Friday, Oct. 2, during virtual 2020 Homecoming, Norwich University officials launched the “Shoulder-to-Shoulder” initiative, a three-year, $28 million fundraising effort.

The initiative is focused on raising funds for five strategic priorities: The Norwich Fund, scholarships, technology endowment, academic enhancement and planned giving.

“It is not lost on me that this initiative, named Shoulder-to-Shoulder, is being launched ... when we have to stand at least 6 feet apart from each other,” President Mark C. Anarumo said in a video launching the initiative at 2020 Homecoming, which was virtual this year because of the pandemic. “Although we are physically separated in these unprecedented times, we must remain united in mission and in service to the next generation.”

The Norwich Fund fuels everything from core operations to innovative opportunities and strategic priorities. It also provides crucial resources that allow the university to offer a timely response to unforeseeable events and urgent needs, such as during the coronavirus pandemic.

Scholarships are imperative to keeping Norwich affordable, a strategic priority for the university. Improving the affordability of a Norwich education remains essential to attracting the best and brightest students. Furthermore, with the economic stresses posed by COVID-19, scholarships are especially important to attracting and retaining top students, further solidifying Norwich’s reputation of excellence.

The technology endowment is crucial for Norwich University to accommodate online courses and provide interactive resources that create a modern, flexible hub for teaching and learning. To stay ahead of the curve, our technology endowment will ensure the maintenance and updating of campus resources and provide access to top-of-the-line systems and equipment.

Investment in academic enhancement will support even more of the experiential learning that defines a Norwich education and occurs outside of the classroom outside, away and abroad. And gifts via planned giving, whether through gifts of bequests, annuities or trusts, make a lasting impact at Norwich and help ensure the university’s future.

“For over 200 years, Norwich has attracted individuals who share a common bond of leadership. We come from many different places and backgrounds as citizen soldiers who strive to make our country great,” Anarumo said. “It is this robust community of students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and friends that sustains Norwich’s legacy.”

For more information, visit: https://www.norwich.edu/shoulder-to-shoulder.

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About Norwich University

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in baccalaureate and graduate degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Capt. Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States. Norwich is one of our nation's six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

Media contact:
Daphne Larkin
802-485-2886
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Norwich University Alumni and Family Office Director Eddie Habeck and the Alden Partridge mascot settle in to watch NUTV for Homecoming 2020. (Video by Ronny DiMasi.)

NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Norwich University will host 2020 Homecoming events in a virtual format, “From the Hill to your Home,” Oct. 1 to 3 with many innovative virtual gatherings and some livestreamed events planned.

NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Norwich University has received a 2020 Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Educational Fundraising Award for the five-year, $100 million bicentennial campaign “Forging the Future.”

NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies announced a partnership with Fluid Education Inc., one of the nation’s newest and fastest-growing education services companies, to provide program and business development, marketing and recruiting services globally for its online undergraduate and select graduate-level programs.

“With the rapid growth in online education and a changing economy, Norwich is positioned to deliver relevant, new online bachelor and master degree programs to the marketplace,” Vice President and Dean of the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies William Clements said. “Our new partnership with Fluid Education will expand the Norwich brand and online education offerings to new markets around the world and add incremental expertise in marketing and enrollment management.” 

Fluid Education CEO Chad Williamson said, “We are extremely excited to partner with Norwich University. Norwich has a long and rich history of serving its students and providing high quality education at a phenomenal price. We intend to help Norwich broaden its brand awareness and reach to learners across the country and around the world.”

For more information about this partnership, please contact CGCS Associate Vice President of Marketing and Enrollment Management Mark Sullivan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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About Fluid Education Inc.

Fluid Education is a purpose-driven education services organization focused on creating accelerated access to education. We partner with universities and organizations to help them recruit, develop, and educate their greatest resources - their people. The leadership team at Fluid Education has over 20 years of experience creating and implementing growth strategies that help universities recruit, engage, and retain high-quality students. Learn more at http://www.fluidedu.com/about/

About Norwich University

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Capt. Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation's six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

About Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies

Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies (CGCS) builds upon the institution’s 200-year academic heritage with innovative online programs. CGCS offers master’s degrees in a variety of areas; bachelor’s degree completion programs; graduate certificates; and continuing education opportunities. The programs are recognized throughout the industry for their rigor, small class size, high student satisfaction and retention. online.norwich.edu 

Media contact:
Daphne Larkin
802-485-2886
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow us on Twitter @norwichnews

NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Norwich University has launched “Voices from the Hill,” a place for Norwich faculty, students, and alumni to contribute their stories on and off The Hill.

Norwich University’s Office of Communications will publish the stories and images from the projects, connections and successes that make Norwich’s community vibrant and vital.

As part of the series, beginning today, and in the coming days, Norwich will release interdisciplinary faculty essays and articles on the collective response to the coronavirus pandemic. The inaugural theme will be Norwich University Perspectives: COVID-19.

The stories are published here: https://bit.ly/2V9jJQj, and readers can keep the conversation going by sharing on their social media channels using the #norwichserves and #wickgrit hashtags along with their preferred pandemic nomenclature.

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About Norwich University

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Capt. Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation's six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

Media contact:
Daphne Larkin
802-485-2886
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow us on Twitter @NorwichNews    

NORTHFIELD, Vt. — As a residential campus with a global reach, Norwich University is closely monitoring the worldwide spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its potential impact in Northfield and in locations where our students are studying away and abroad. Because of concerns over the spread of the virus, Norwich University is canceling or rescheduling many campus-based and university-sponsored events as well as all athletics contests. Norwich is also moving to teach the remainder of all classes online. For more information on that, please go here: https://www.norwich.edu/news/psa.

NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Norwich University will host the Spring 2020 Education Conference from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. March 19.

The day consists of four blocks of three concurrent sessions led by Norwich University professors and education experts on a wide variety of topics, ranging from video creation and application to teaching students who are refugees.


Norwich University Perspectives Project: COVID-19

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