Meet a Scientist: Mariah Denhart
Jul 12

Meet a Scientist: Mariah Denhart

By Dr. Maria Wheeler-Dubas, Research and Science Education Outreach Coordinator

If you take a look at your hands or your feet, how many bones do you have in your wrists or ankles? Fingers or toes? Have you ever wondered how the bones in our arms and legs articulate so perfectly? Everything about our limbs is so detailed in structure, nevermind function! We may rarely think about it, but for a developmental biologist, that complexity is the name of the game. This Saturday, July 15, in the Tropical Forest, our monthly Meet a Scientist will introduce you to Mariah Denhart, first year graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh’s Molecular, Cellular, Developmental, and Biochemistry program. Mariah’s lab focuses on the genes involved in signaling limb development.

For Mariah, a fascination with living things began early as she grew up in California, with the family’s animals including five dogs, three horses, two cats, and two rabbits!

“As a kid,” she says. “I loved learning about animals and spent a lot of time taking extra science classes and going to interactive science museums…One reason I became a scientist is that I like understanding how things work in the world around us.”

Mariah’s inquisitive drive to learn about the world led her to Linfield College in Oregon, where she earned her degree in biology. Her time as an undergraduate also provided her with invaluable research experience that explored the intersection of biology and conservation.

“I worked with my advisor researching the symbiosis between marine sponges and the bacteria that live inside them and how we may use this relationship to monitor the health of marine environments impacted by agricultural runoff.”

Though Mariah’s work has migrated from marine sciences to developmental biology, she still is still driven by the wonder of discovery and exploration, and she hopes to share that with others through science education. She knows that digging into complex concepts is a challenge, but it’s a worthwhile effort to understanding!

“For me, biology is sort of like a puzzle; as you find where each piece fits, you gain a better understanding of the both how things are connected and the overall picture.”

Come meet Mariah Denhart this Saturday, July 15, from 1:30-3:30 pm, in the Tropical Forest!


If you are a graduate student, professor, or other professional in any STEM field and you are interested in participating in our Meet a Scientist Saturdays, check out our science communication workshops!

X-ray Credit: Nevit Dilmen CC-BY-SA-3.0