Emily McMahill

Emily McMahill

Ferchau Lecturer in Biology


Pharm.D., Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Pharmacy, 2015
B.A., Western Colorado University, Chemistry, 2011


How did you discover Western?

I attended Western as an undergraduate and I fell in love. I loved the valley, the supportive faculty, and a guy named Donovan. I actually met my now husband, Donovan McMahill, when I was a student at Western. Donovan and I both found our experiences at Western to be unforgettable. When we moved to Illinois for graduate school, we both said that we would be back one day. At the time, I thought that going back to Gunnison would revolve around summer fishing expeditions and winter ski trips. When the opportunity to move to Gunnison full-time became available, it was hard to pass up. Beyond living in a beautiful place, my transition back to Western allowed me to pursue a long-time interest in teaching. Also, I would have the opportunity to advise students interested in healthcare professions. I personally made the transition from attending Western to becoming a healthcare professional and I am thrilled that I can assist students with similar aspirations.

What are some of the highlights of your career?

Prior to working at Western, I worked as an ambulatory care pharmacist for Veterans Affairs. My previous title is a little misleading. Many people assume that I worked in an emergency department because the term ambulatory makes them think of an ambulance. In actuality, ambulatory refers to a patients ability to walk or be freely mobile. As an ambulatory care pharmacist, I worked with patients with long-standing health concerns. Within the Veterans Affairs healthcare system, ambulatory care pharmacists have prescribing rights. In other words, a patient could be referred to me for diabetes management and I would have the prescriptive authority to adjust their medications. It was empowering to help patients achieve their healthcare goals. As a lecturer, I now share with my students the gratifying and sometimes upsetting experiences that I had as a pharmacist. In sharing these stories, I hope to connect what students learn in the classroom to real-life situations.

What most excites you about your field?

First, I will address what excites me about pharmacy and then I’ll speak more broadly about healthcare. Pharmacy always made sense to me. I loved that researchers could create a drug product that often mimicked the structure of naturally occurring chemicals/hormones/etc, but then could change the physiologic outcome by making relatively small adjustments to the molecule. Beyond appreciating the so-called “hard sciences” housed within pharmacy, I really enjoyed creating relationships with my patients. I valued my patients well-being and, in most cases, knowing that I cared helped patients place greater focus on their health. From the prospective of healthcare, I really appreciate that a greater emphasis is being placed on teamwork. Advancements in medicine have made it impossible for a single person to know all the answers; however, when experts from a variety of fields (i.e. medicine, pharmacy, nursing, physical therapy, etc) work together effectively, patients see the benefits. As a health professions advisor, I love helping students learn about the career paths that await them.

What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?

I love that there is so much natural beauty right outside my doorstep. There is never a shortage of fun outdoor activities! Also, I am fortunate to be surrounded by a community of people that love the outdoors which makes it easy to engage in these activities with my friends.

Courses Taught

  • Intro to Healthcare
  • Medical Terminology
  • Nutrition
  • Pathophysiology
  • Immunology


  • Donahue E. Technosphere Insulin: Proper use and administration of the new inhaled insulin product. SIUE School of Pharmacy CE. 2014 Dec 10. ACPE UAN 0480-0000-14-005-H01-P.
  • Polavarapu PL, Donahue EA, Hammer KC, Raghavan V, Shanmugam G, Ibnusaud I, et al. Chiroptical spectroscopy of natural products: avoiding the aggregation effects of chiral carboxylic acids. J Nat. Prod. 2012 Aug 9; 75(8): 1441-1450.
  • Polavarapu PL, Donahue EA, Shanmugam G, Scalmani G, Hawkins, EK, Rizzo C, et al. A single chiroptical spectroscopic method may not be able to establish the absolute configurations of diastereomers: dimethylesters of hibiscus and garcinia acids. J Phys Chem A. 2011 June 9; 115(22): 5665-5673