Spartans of UD: Tom Scroggs

Nov 14, 2018 | University Relations

Spartans of UD highlights what makes University of Dubuque special – the people who live, work, and study on campus. Tom Scroggs, a senior biology major, studied the ecological factors controlling Lyme disease-causing bacteria as part of the Joseph and Linda Chlapaty Summer Fellowship. He is also a member of the UD Bass Fishing Team and Pre-Health Professions Club.

Spartans of UD - Tom Scroggs
Tom Scroggs
Biology Major

1. Why did you choose to attend the University of Dubuque?

“I chose to attend the University of Dubuque because of a meeting I had with Gerald Zuercher, professor of vertebrate ecology. Dr. Zuercher discussed how great the science program is here and I was really impressed with the research opportunities that were available. I also knew some members of the UD Bass Fishing Team, so that was another incentive for me as well.”

2. This past summer, you researched the ecological factors controlling Lyme disease-causing bacteria as part of the Joseph and Linda Chlapaty Summer Fellowship with Kelly Grussendorf, assistant professor of biology. Why are you passionate about that topic?

“When I found out about Dr. Grussendorf’s Lyme disease project, I saw an opportunity to study something that has a lot of unanswered questions. Lyme disease is of increasing concern. Up until recent years, it didn’t affect many people outside of the northeastern and upper Midwest, and because of that not very much attention has been paid to this disease, despite the threat it poses. In fact, we are currently the only research team in Iowa looking into this disease. Along with that, it has been a disease that I have known about for a long time since I spend a lot of time outdoors, and so I saw this as an opportunity to find out more about this disease and the health field.”

3. What did your research discover?

“We are still in the process of analyzing the data we collected this summer, but last summer’s project run by Taline Holman (C’18) found that a majority of small mammals in some areas of Dubuque County carried this disease-causing bacteria. This is a problem because ticks, which transmit this disease to humans, become infected by feeding on an infected rodent or other small animal.  Some areas showed small mammal infection rates as high as 90 percent!”

4. How have your experiences at the University of Dubuque helped prepare your for dental school?

“The University of Dubuque has really helped me prepare for dental school. The curriculum helped me get a good score on the DAT, which is the dental version of the MCAT. Dr. Grussendorf, Dr. Zuercher, Dr. Hoffman, and Mr. Larocco have been very helpful, whether it was writing letters of recommendation, giving advice on how to prepare my application, or doing mock interviews. It really has been a community effort to help me get ready. The challenging classes have gotten me ready for the rigors of dental school.”

5. What advice do you have for other UD Spartans?

“Work hard on your academics, but focus on getting involved because that is what will help you stand out from the crowd.”