David Modica

Name: David ModicaDavid doing a project

Hometown: Lititz, PA  

Anticipated graduation: December 2023  

Majors: Botany

Minor: Chemistry


  • Departmental Thesis – DNA Barcode Identification, Systematics and Ethnobotany of Allium Vegetables of Uncertain Species Identity in Area Produce Markets 
    • I am using molecular biological techniques (PCR amplification) and bioinformatics to analyze what species in the Allium cepa-fistulosum-chinense vegetable complex are being sold under the common names ‘green onions’, ‘scallions’, and ‘spring onions.’  
  • Robertson Endowed Library Garden intern 2022 and 2023 
    • Helped Dr. Hardy maintain and develop the library garden on the center of campus. This garden serves as a living evolutionary classroom, laid out in accordance with the evolution of vascular plants. There is an emphasis on using plants native to Lancaster County within the landscape. 

Inspirations (for major, research, internship):  

I began my interest in botany and biodiversity through my work at Stauffers of Kissel Hill nursery on Lititz Pike. Working in the garden center allowed me to utilize information learned in class to assist and teach both coworkers and customers alike about characteristics of the plants they were selling/buying. This ability to answer questions and dispense information effectively was immensely satisfying and inspired me to ask more questions of my own and dig deeper into the intricacies of botany and biology at large.  

Highlights (from courses/internship/research):  

My favorite class I’ve ever taken was Plant Systematics with Dr. Hardy. I had a very basic understanding of plant evolution and the various plant families before the class, but the course revealed a beautiful and complex web of evolutionary relationships between plants that I had never imagined. It was as if a door to a whole new world was opened to me, even though it had been in front of me my whole life. Plant identification skills and knowledge of plant evolution has allowed me to connect with the world around me and see the beauty of every living thing, no matter how small or overlooked. It has also sharpened my observational skills, allowing me to ask questions and inform my current and possible future research projects.  

Takeaway (from courses/internship/research):  

I have been a student at Millersville for a fairly long time. I initially arrived at Millersville without any clue as to what I wanted to do or what I was passionate about. Never in my life would I have thought that I would descend so deep into the world of science, yet here I am. I believe this is proof that if you put your mind to something and you have the passion to stick with it and practice, you can achieve things that will surprise you.  

Advice (for incoming freshman in your shoes):  

Time management is key and was the first challenge for me to overcome in college. You are juggling a lot of different classes, social obligations and new experiences when you enter a university, and finding the right balance between these things is key to maintaining your mental health and academic success. Have people around you to help you and hold you accountable, make connections with classmates that are experiencing the same things as you. Make connections with your professors, talking with them about what you want out of your degree and your time here can clarify your goals and help build a path forward.  

Aspirations (upon graduation):  

I hope to attend a graduate program to obtain a PhD in plant sciences/plant systematics. My goal is to become a professor and spend my career challenging myself to learn and grow as much as possible while hopefully inspiring a similar passion in others.