Eight students from Buena Vista University spent fall break visiting Mayo Clinic, Imanis Life Sciences, and Sanford Health Research Center, where they received a behind-the-scenes look at various types of science and medicine-based professional opportunities.
Dr. Brian Lenzmeier, professor of biology, and Dr. Thomas Bonagura, assistant professor of biology, were the faculty advisors for the trip, which was sponsored by the BVU Stine Endowment Committee and the Otteman Internship and Research Fund. The Mayo Foundation and the Sanford Health Foundation also helped with costs associated with the trip.
Every other year, the BVU science department offers a student discovery trip similar to this during fall break. The timing is intentional so students do not miss classes and are able to observe their surroundings on a weekday when there is a lot of activity happening at the facilities.
During the visit to Mayo Clinic, BVU students engaged with graduate students, met with the department chair of Mayo’s virology and gene therapy program, Dr. Yasuhiro Ikeda, and received an inside look at research laboratories and other core departments. The students also had the opportunity to spend time in a facility adorned with a name familiar to the BVU community – the Siebens Medical Education Building – which is named in honor of Dr. Harold Walter Siebens and his wife, Estelle.
“Trips like this are really important for students as they develop academically and professionally,” said Lenzmeier. “Academically, this excursion allowed students to interact directly with scientists who are making new medical discoveries and to learn about how those discoveries are ultimately translated into improved patient care. From a professional perspective, our students had some great discussions with researchers and health professionals about the pros and cons of careers available to them in the biomedical sciences.”
The group also visited Imanis Life Sciences, a biotechnology company, where they engaged with research scientists and toured the facility. The students’ final stop of the trip was at Sanford Health Research Center, where they toured the grounds, had lunch with graduate students, and met with several research scientists.
The BVU students who participated in the trip included:
• Nadia Ecyomuhendo, a senior biology major from Kigali, Rwanda
• Derek Hunwardsen, a senior biology and biochemistry double major from Fairmont, Minn.
• Rachel Kehrberg, a senior biology and music double major from Hinton
• Kathryn Keller, a junior biology major from Rolfe
• Kalab Kibret, a sophomore biology major from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
• Emily Kim, a senior biology major from Fairmont, Minn.
• Amanda Miley, a junior chemistry and biology double major from Independence, Mo.
• Kayanna Wibben, a junior biochemistry major from New Richland, Minn.