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Regina Trout is standing in front of a row of human skeletons in a biology lab

Regina Trout: Mastodon Memories

This summer series explores the campus experiences of current PFW faculty and staff who are also alumni.

By Blake Sebring

July 27, 2023

Regina Trout, B.A. ’12, M.S. ’15

Lecturer in Biology in Biological Sciences

As the daughter of retired human anatomy and physiology professor Marilyn Shannon, Regina Trout has been visiting the campus of Purdue University Fort Wayne since before birth, and the Science Building in particular since age 6. After earning her master’s degree, she took a position at Purdue West Lafayette before coming back to PFW in 2019. She’s one of nine children, seven of whom have attended here, so far. There’s been a family member on this campus continuously since 1990.

Where are you from and why did you choose to go to school here? 

RT: Home is Fort Wayne and I was homeschooled all the way through. (Coming here) was sheer practicality because my mom was an instructor here. With my mom being here, I got 50 percent tuition remission. Also, my family was very committed to going through college without debt. I’m one of nine siblings, so we knew from the beginning that we had to be able to get through college without putting financial strain on our parents. 

What car where you driving at the time?

RT: I was driving a 1980 Oldsmobile station wagon. It was blue, and all my friends knew when I was on campus. 

Why did you pick your major?

RT: I decided to major in biology with the goal of going on to study veterinary medicine, but as I spent time working with a veterinarian for six years, I realized I didn’t want to spend my life doing that. On the other hand, I had always loved biology, and I knew even as an undergrad that I would have to make sure I could use my degree to have a career. Particularly, as I got my master’s here, I knew I wanted to have a position where I could teach part-time so I could prioritize family life, which was very important to me. 

How did attending school here change your life?

RT: In many ways, I would not have this position if I had not attended here. I fell in love with human anatomy and physiology here and then from work as a graduate student. Being a teaching assistant in these labs, I had the experience to get the position at Purdue and then the position here. 

What kind of music were you listening to and what was your favorite group or band? 

RT: As a graduate student, I listened to the Piano Guys all the time, and when I graded papers Johnny Cash. For whatever reason, listening to his music would get me into the mood to do grades. The Piano Guys were all the rage when I was in grad school. 

What was your favorite area research?

RT: My graduate research was on immune function in echinoderms, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers. I was very interested in immune functions, and I still am. Dr. Ahmed Mustafa wanted a student who would be willing to take on the challenge of studying an animal in his lab that no other graduate student had yet worked with. I said OK and I had to get my sea urchins shipped in from Massachusetts and my sea cucumbers shipped in from California – and I really enjoyed the sea urchins. They were a lot of fun to work with.

Were you a member of any student organizations?

RT: I was a member of the ag pre-vet club, the students for life, a member of the Newman Catholic Group, and part of the biology club. As a member of the Students for Life, I was able to travel to Washington, D.C., three times for the National Right to Life in January. 

Did you have favorite professors and why? 

RT: Dr. Mustafa, of course. I believe I took all of his classes, and he was my supervisor. There are honorable mentions: John LaMaster for math, some of my fondest memories are from his class. Vince Malone in organic chemistry was another one. 

Why did you decide to come back to the university?

RT: There were a lot of things that lined in such a way that this position opened up, and the timing was perfect because my position at Purdue was going to disappear. It was coming home.

How has PFW changed for the better?

RT: I have seen PFW working very hard on engaging the community recently. We now have the op-eds in The Journal Gazette, the Philharmonic just announced they are moving here, Jim Banks just had his event here, so I’ve seen that as a big change.