Monday, March 8, 2010

Students present research to state legislators, Mayo Clinic

News Editor

Several Saint Mary’s University students have been given the opportunity to showcase their knowledge and research through the Minnesota Scholars at the Capitol and the Mayo Clinic Innovation Scholars programs.

Three SMU students were invited to present their senior research and theses to legislators from around the state through a two-hour poster session at the Minnesota Scholars at the Capitol event on Thursday, Feb. 25. The event was sponsored by the Minnesota Private Colleges Council (MPCC) and included students from 17 colleges.

Typically, the event features mostly science-based research, but Dr. Elizabeth Throop, dean of Humanities and Sciences and cultural anthropologist, wanted to include the research of senior Ryan Soukup, a history major who presented his project on “Social Change and Revitilization: Social Change as a cause for the Dakota Conflict of 1862.” Throop said Soukup had developed “some really interesting applications about theory” and wanted to include him in the event.

Two science students, senior Michelle Hermes and graduate student Keith Fahrforth, also presented their research project, “The Effects of Atrizene on Pac-cell volume, Gender and Development of Gallus gallus (chickens).” Dr. Debra Martin, professor of biology, selected Hermes and Fahrforth to present at the event.

In addition to the scholars event, SMU has also been selected to complete two projects for the Mayo Clinic Innovation Scholars Program. SMU has participated for three years in the program, which is sponsored by the Mayo Clinic, Medtronic and MPCC, but this year, SMU was the only school besides St. Olaf that was selected to complete two projects as opposed to only one, Throop said.“

We beat out the big, rich colleges, which I think is very cool and says something very good about SMU students,” Throop said.

The program is an undergraduate research program that takes project ideas that come through the Mayo Clinic patent office and assigns the projects to each MPCC school for students to conduct research on the project idea. Each group is comprised of science students who test the feasibility of the proposal, business students who develop marketing ideas for the proposed idea and an MBA who oversees the group research, Throop said.

“Anytime you have a collaboration with an institution like Mayo Clinic, it not only benefits our students but benefits Mayo Clinic because it gives them our expertise,” Martin said.

The presentations to the Mayo Clinic will be held in private on March 12, as the nature and content of the projects is kept confidential. One group’s project involves breast cancer and includes students Brittany Peterson, Boya Hu, Caitlin O’Connor and Melissa Wolfe.

The other group’s project involves a medical computer system and is being researched by students Phil Thomas, Thomas Briese,Aga Kadej, Matt Wilgenbusch and Emily Friedl.

“(The projects) are something we should be incredibly proud of,” Throop said. “It shows what a powerhouse our science and business students are.”

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