Matt Jefferson

Neuroscientist

Matt Jefferson's Story

Jefferson started work toward his doctorate in neuroscience in 2013, and he expects to complete it by 2018. He is studying early neuro-inflammatory events, such as high-fat diets, in relation to brain disease. “We’re trying to catch the development upstream,” he said of his work, which applies mostly to the younger generation. “What changes in the brain, and how does that exacerbate Parkinson’s disease? There are lots of different approaches to research, and I’m focusing on how the disease state gets there, as opposed to the disease state itself.”

Jefferson credits associate professor of psychology Marsha Dopheide with providing a new direction for him at Monmouth. “Before I did research for her, I was on a pre-med track,” he said. “As I worked with her, I realized I could make a better contribution in the lab than in a clinic. She was pivotal in my development.” In particular, said Jefferson, Dopheide recognized his ability to “function independently.”

Tying it all together

Service is an important element of Jefferson’s personal philosophy. To turn a phrase from “Field of Dreams,” he was “the Midwest distributor of involved” while at Monmouth, and he continues to serve and be involved at Iowa State. “My leadership opportunities at Monmouth showed me how much I could handle and still be successful,” said Jefferson. “They really gave me super strong problem-solving abilities, something I see that is in need of further development in some of my peers in graduate school. Those leadership lessons carry over every day. There’s not much prescribed structure to what you do during your day in the lab. It’s up to me to guide the lab.”

  • If you build it
    Jefferson founded Monmouth’s Pre-Med/Pre-Health Club and served as president. He was also president of MC’s chapter of the American Chemical Society.
  • Head of the class
    Jefferson earned a trio of prestigious awards at the final Honors Convocation of his college career. He was Senior Man of the Year and Scot Ambassador of the Year and also won the Psi Chi Award for Excellence in Research.
Monmouth gave me a broad liberal arts perspective. I think that’s an issue for all angles of science, but I also learned about communications and economics, which I use absolutely every day.


Matt Jefferson ’11
Major: Biopsychology, minored in Chemistry; Master’s Degree in Experimental Psychology