Med School Perspective: Dave Bergstrand ’14

Completing medical school applications is a notoriously arduous process, but this winter, Augsburg alum Dave Bergstand ’14 received the answer he’d been waiting for. “I will be attending the U of Minnesota for medical school, starting Fall 2016,” wrote Bergstrand, “I applied to, I believe, 20 medical schools (13 MD programs, 7 DO programs).I decided which schools based upon where I felt I’d fit best in terms of the missions of the schools, and took into consideration average acceptance MCAT scores and the number of out-state applicants the schools accepted.”

We asked Dave a few questions to learn more about his med school application experience and his tips for other Auggies considering the path.

Describe how you became interested in the medical field and what direction you’re leaning toward in your career.

My interest in medicine first began as an intellectual curiosity. I was initially very interested in psychology, and when I began learning about psychological disorders I became fascinated with the human brain. It was at that point, once I became interested in brain physiology, that I started to consider medicine as my interest began to shift from psychology to biology. After that, once I started taking science classes at Augsburg, I was hooked.

It’s very difficult at this point to say where I’ll end up practicing in medicine as my exposure has been limited to Emergency and Primary Care settings. I have some knowledge of other fields, but no first hand exposure. With that said, however, I really see myself ending up as a Primary Care physician, likely in Family Medicine. I’m really attracted to the longitudinal care aspect of primary care and being able to form strong relationships with patients over time.

How did your experiences at Augsburg inform your desire to go to med school?

I had several very meaningful experiences at Augsburg that continued to drive me toward medical school:

Major – Biopsychology. My academic/classroom experience at Augsburg was very meaningful in terms of strengthening my interest in science in general and providing a strong foundational knowledge.

Research – I had several different research experiences. I was an URGO researcher for one summer and worked at the Brain Sciences Center with Dr. David Crowe doing neurobiology work. This further strengthened my interest in science/biology, but it also showed me that working in a lab, while very rewarding and intellectually stimulating, was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I missed human interaction, to put it simply. I was also a Mayo Innovations Scholar. This broadened my view of the medical field to include the business and economic side, and deepened my fascination with medicine and the science of medicine.

Volunteering – I volunteered as a Crisis Counselor at a crisis hotline center. This was an incredible experience for many reasons, the most important of which was that it showed me the power of being and reward of serving others and directly impacting lives. This strengthened my desire to become a physician as I envision a similar reward serving patients in the future.

What was the most challenging part of the application process, and how did you approach that challenge?

The application process is arduous and difficult. For me, the biggest challenge was the personal statement. To address this, I sought the help of an advisor with personal statement experience (namely, Catherina).I think this is crucial. I probably went through 15-20 drafts of the statement (not sure what a “normal” number of drafts is), and we met almost every week or two for 2-3 months to go over things and review. Be comfortable taking constructive criticism.

Secondaries are also a tremendous amount of work, but the same process was applied: Write responses, review with Catherina, repeat.

Interview preparation can also be very daunting, but I worked with several different people (Catherina, Dale Pederson in Biology, a physician I know, my Mom, and a family friend) to prepare and did a number of practice interviews to get ready. Lots and lots of practice.

What advice do you have for other Auggies seeking medical school acceptance or a career in the health field?

Start your application early. Start your application as early as you possibly can. Start thinking about what and how you will write your personal statement. Document your experiences as you are experiencing them.

Gain as much direct medical experience as possible. Medical scribing is a tremendous opportunity for this. Inform yourself on what doctors do on a daily basis. Saying you want to become a physician is much more meaningful if you have direct experience to draw upon. Your personal statement and interviews will be so much stronger if you have lived experiences to draw from to explain your desire for medicine.

Start MCAT prep very early. Understand that the MCAT will be the hardest exam you’ll have taken to that point in your life, and it is unlike any test you’ve ever taken. A strong MCAT score is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. It’s certainly not everything, but it is very important. So, start prep early, and be prepared to spend several hundred hours getting ready.

Have something unique. You will be one of literally thousands of applicants with the same MCAT and GPA scores. Try to make your application unique somehow. Learn a second language. Study abroad in Africa. Spend a summer vacation on a service trip.

Grades and MCAT are very important, but so is compiling a compelling range of experiences. The more experiences you can have as an undergraduate, the better, but make sure they are meaningful and that you’ll be able to describe why and how they were meaningful. One of my regrets is that I didn’t volunteer more and didn’t have more experiences in general. It’s much easier to cut experiences out of an application if you have too many than to try to come up with experiences to list that don’t have much meaning.

URGO Alum Spotlight: Miranda Campbell

Miranda Campbell ’06 was part of the first URGO Summer Research cohort ten years ago and is now one of the first URGO alum to receive a doctorate degree. Her Ph.D. is in Clinical Psychology from University of Illinois – Chicago. Below, she answered a few questions about how her undergraduate experience prepared her for graduate school, what the most enjoyable and most challenging parts of her experience were, and, looking back, what advice she’d give to herself as an undergrad.

Photo courtesy of Miranda Campbell
Photo courtesy of Miranda Campbell
What was your experience with research as an undergrad? What skills did you learn (from research or otherwise) that helped you most in graduate school?
My research experience in undergrad paved the way for my future career in Clinical Psychology (THANKS DIXIE!). I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in URGO’s summer research program during my final year at Augsburg in 2006. I worked with Dr. Nancy Steblay on a project evaluating the fairness of police lineups in Hennepin County, and it was an amazing, rewarding, and challenging experience!  This is when I first learned how powerful and exciting it is to ask a question and carefully, methodically seek to find an answer to that question. My experience with URGO was my first taste of REAL research, and I loved every part of it: the challenge, having to expand my breadth of knowledge to fully understand an area of literature and feel like an “expert” on it, the persistence and detail-orientedness needed to carry out a research project well, and – most exciting – the final product! Knowing that you have contributed something meaningful to the world, and that others will benefit from your hard work – that is something to be proud of.
How did you decide which graduate school to attend, and what was your experience in applying?
The grad school application process, for me, was full of questions like:  Why haven’t I heard from them yet? Did I make a typo in my personal statement? Will I really be able to live there? What if I don’t get in, is it a sign that I should be doing something else? What if I get in but then I fail? How am I going to pay for all of these applications, I just paid to take the GRE…what?! What if I don’t get in anywhere, then all of this was a waste! Why is this all so hard?
Thankfully, the process and those questions did end, eventually. I knew I wanted to get a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology upon graduation from Augsburg, but I also knew that I wanted a program that balanced both research and clinical work. Some doctoral programs in this area are unbalanced, either focusing almost solely on clinical training or sacrificing this training for heavier research training. Next, I had to contact potential graduate advisors with research programs that matched my interests to see if they would be accepting a graduate student to mentor during the next year. Finally, I limited myself geographically to the Midwest because I wanted to be close to my family if possible. I ended up applying to 8 programs, received interviews at 4 of them, and was accepted into my top choice at the University of Illinois – Chicago.
What was the most enjoyable part of your graduate work? The most difficult part?
The most enjoyable part of my graduate work was the opportunity to learn SO much, and have that basically be my job. Also, I am especially invigorated by clinical work, and the feeling that comes along with knowing that you are helping someone make a change that will benefit their life. I would have to say that the most enjoyable MOMENT of my graduate career was when I successfully defended my dissertation, June 30th of 2015. That moment will burn in my mind forever.
Like with many things for me, the most difficult parts of my graduate work are tied to the most enjoyable because I thrive off challenge. It was really difficult at times to stay motivated to keep going, to keep working, especially when a research project lasts for multiple years. There were times where I thought everything was going right, but then realized I had made a mistake along the way, and hours or days of work was lost. Having your own work rejected from journals is also hard, as any type of rejection is. But, a graduate program is a lot like a good research project – you just have to keep going until the end, knowing that hopefully it will all be worth it.
Describe your current position and research interests. Do you have any long term dreams or goals with your research?
On the same day I defended my dissertation, I was called and offered a permanent full-time psychologist position at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital (Hines VA) located right outside of Chicago.  I had just completed my year-long Clinical Psychology Predoctoral Internship at the Hines VA, and prior to that I completed a year-long externship there as well. I had hopes of landing a full-time job at Hines because I loved the work and psychology staff there, but you can never predict that happening given that there are a limited number of positions, especially in my specialized area of Medical Rehabilitation Psychology. But, the stars aligned and I am now working as the Medical Rehabilitation Psychologist covering two units: Inpatient Acute Medical Rehabilitation, and the Geriatric Transitional Care Unit. On the Acute Rehab Unit, I provide psychotherapy and assessment services to Veterans who are in the hospital recovering from serious medical procedures or conditions, such as amputations, strokes, brain injuries, knee replacements, etc. On the Geriatrics unit, I provide similar services to Veterans dealing with medical issues that require more long-term stabilization and care, such as Parkinson’s disease, end-stage cancers, etc. I also work some with caregivers and family members who need support as their Veteran copes with their medical issues. Technically, my title is “Graduate Psychologist” because I am not yet licensed. To obtain licensure as a clinical psychologist, I’ll need 1 full year of post-doctoral clinical work and will have to take and pass the EPPP licensure exam.
Regarding my research interests, the majority of my work in graduate school focused on psychophysiological measures associated with depression and/or anxiety. I have always been interested in the relationship between the mind and the body, and how biology and psychology intersect. This is also reflected in my clinical interests as a Med Rehab Psychologist. Now that I am working with Veterans, I hope to extend my research interests to serve them. I have not yet had the opportunity to conduct research that so closely aligns with my clinical work, but I think that it would be an incredibly satisfying experience. I know that will be a possibility in my future VA career.
Looking back, if you could give any advice to yourself as an undergraduate, what would it be?
Don’t question yourself so much, but be sure to never stop asking questions.
Written by Mary Cornelius ’16

Sociology Students Attend 110th ASA Annual Meeting in Chicago

Augsburg sociology students with Professor James Vela-McConnell
Augsburg sociology students with Professor James Vela-McConnell

From August 22-25, 2015, five Augsburg sociology students received URGO funding to attend the 110th American Sociological Association Annual Meeting in Chicago. According to the association’s webpage, “Nearly 600 program sessions are convened during the four-day meeting held every August to provide participation venues and networking outlets for nearly 3,000 research papers and over 4,600 presenters.”

Keisha Barnard, a senior, presented her paper titled “Moprivation: the Motivation and Deprivation Produced by Social Media Usage” during the conference.

“This was my first time at an ASA conference. I did not expect the conference to be so large. It was amazing to be surrounded by some of the most prestigious sociologists,” said Barnard. “If I had the opportunity to attend the conference again in the future, I would pick ‘random’ presentations to sit in on instead of picking topics I am familiar with. I went to several presentations that included information I’ve previously studied; thus, instead of learning new information, I was refreshed on familiar topics.”

When asked how attending the conference would affect her studies in the coming year, Barnard replied, “Throughout the conference, I heard critique about the discourse of sociology. Many expressed the urgency to make sociology public. Instead of taking public action, many sociologists stick to producing research paper after research paper. Though these research papers are important and needed to provide crucial information, I am more motivated to take the provided information and transform it into public action. Thus, my future studies and career path will hopefully involve action-oriented work.”

Students Devin Wiggs, Hannah Bech, Duina Hernandez and Courtney Terry also attended and presented at the conference.

URGO offers up to $850 in travel funding for Augsburg students who wish to present research at a professional conference.  These funds can mitigate the high costs of travel such as airfare and lodging, and can contribute to students’ professionalization. To learn more and to find the URGO Travel Application, click here.

Written by Mary Cornelius ’16


URGO Alum Spotlight: Alison Rapp ’11

Photo courtesy of Alison Rapp '11
Photo courtesy of Alison Rapp ’11
Photo Courtesy of Alison Rapp '11
Photo Courtesy of Alison Rapp ’11

Alison Rapp graduated from Augsburg in 2011 after studying communications, international relations, and Japanese. While at Augsburg, she participated in independent research, academic year research through URGO, and the summer research program in 2010, where she partnered with Prof. Kristen Chamberlain.

For her Masters, she headed across the river to the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in communications and critical media studies. Now, she’s a Product Marketing Specialist for Nintendo of America. Below, she answered some questions for us about her research experience as an undergrad and how it helped her get to where she is today.

How did you first get involved with research as an undergrad? Was it something you were expecting to get involved with, or something that developed from your other experiences at Augsburg? 

My first big research project wasn’t even through URGO—it was an independent study with Martha Johnson. I’d gotten back from a study abroad in Japan, and wanted to keep studying the onnagata (men who play women in traditional Japanese theater), so I did. I’d always enjoyed asking questions, soaking up info, and figuring out stuff on my own, so research was probably a natural fit.

Then, I figured I’d apply for a summer URGO grant to study archetypes of femininity in The Legend of Zelda video game series—I’d always loved video games, and I was super into gender and sexuality studies…except I actually got turned down for the grant. It was a pretty big blow to my ego. But I kept pursuing it and ended up getting two academic-year grants, and a summer grant before all was said and done.

What tools did you learn as an undergrad researcher that you carried into your graduate research and your career?

My URGO summer research project was a look at the relationships and representations of couples in yaoi and yuri manga, which are Japanese comic books about gay and lesbian relationships, written for heterosexual women. I continued that project during grad school.

More generally, after doing multiple URGO programs and writing all those huge papers and so on, I went into grad school knowing I could handle it. I mean, grad school is a whole other beast and is definitely really tough and time-consuming, but I knew that I’d done it all before, so I could do it again. A lot of it was a confidence thing.

Now, I work at Nintendo, and a lot of my job is about being a game expert. People from other teams come to me to learn about games that the company’s making, and it’s my job to know everything there is to know about the game I’m assigned to, and to be able to make it make sense to everyone else. Of course, a big part of that is collaborating with the other people on my team—we share knowledge and teach each other so we can all be experts on as much as possible. My job is like being a researcher and a teacher! Not to mention one of my URGO-funded research projects was on The Legend of Zelda…it feels pretty neat to have joked with people in college about how I was studying video games, and now I’m working at the company that made the games I studied. I’m definitely very lucky.

Briefly describe your current research interests (and what your URGO summer project was!).

 Now that I’m out of academia and in industry, a lot of my research interests are dominated by my work, which is games. I’m not complaining! But I still try to keep an eye on communication research more generally. The Pop Culture Association—I presented my Legend of Zelda research to them a few years ago—is hosting their 2016 conference in Seattle, so while I won’t be presenting any original research there this time, I’m still planning to go and see what cool work other people are doing.

 What’s the most exhilarating part of your current job at Nintendo? (Or—what does your average work day look like?)

 People like to joke that my job is just playing video games all day, and while there are days I do that, the vast majority of my time is actually spent educating other people about the games, writing about them, giving feedback on things people create for the games, and so on. I also do quite a bit of traveling. I wear a lot of hats, and I stay very busy, but it’s super rewarding. I get to meet a lot of Nintendo fans, and hearing them talk about how much a game or character means to them is the best—I mean, I grew up a Nintendo fan, too!

 What tips do you have for current Auggie undergrad researchers about how they can make the most of their time in college?

I had the most success when I was sassy. People who are older than you or have more education than you aren’t gods — they’re fallible and the materials they assign are fallible. If you have an issue with something, or you don’t like a book, say so. The stupidest and the smartest thing I ever did in college was actually the summer before I started. I got my books a couple months early and started reading The Question of God for Larry Crockett’s intro Honors Program course. I hated the book, so I emailed him—before I’d ever met him—to tell him so. I ended up getting a 4.0 in his class. That’s when I realized that doing good schoolwork isn’t everything—showing you’re not someone who just automatically internalizes what other people tell you is also really (if not more) important. You can be gutsy and successful—they’re not mutually-exclusive, and sometimes they’re directly related.

The 2015-2016 URGO Academic Year Research Grant application is now posted under the “research” tab on the right. Talk with a faculty member today and get started on your own research path!

Written by Mary Cornelius ’16


Featured Researchers: History Scholars Caitlin Crowley and Greg Lewis

150526 Caitlin Crowley 017
Caitlin Crowley; photo by Stephen Geffre
150526 Greg Lewis 020
Greg Lewis; photo by Stephen Geffre

Augsburg is nearing a very important birthday: 2019 will mark our “sesquicentennial” or 150th year. To commemorate this event, history professor Phil Adamo is working on a book about the history of Augsburg with the help of undergraduate student researchers. Caitlin Crowley and Greg Lewis are two summer researchers involved with the project. Read on to hear about how they became history majors and what it’s like to work as part of a humanities research team.

How did you decide to be a history major? What is your interest area within the field?
CC: I would like to say I decided to become a history major because I have always enjoyed history and I immediately was drawn to it. It didn’t quite happen like that. I started at Augsburg as a transfer student and I had planned on majoring in English literature. I ended up becoming a history major after taking a class with Phil Adamo. I liked the class so much that first I decided to become a Medieval Studies major. Then, I switched to History after about a year. History classes have always been my favorite classes. I am still especially interested in ancient and medieval history, but after studying more modern history I am realizing I just love it all.
GL: I always knew that I would end up being a history major because I always loved the past, mainly because it is the greatest story ever. It has all of the fun that you could ever expect to see: romance, mystery, sci-fi to a degree, and of course stories of revenge. All in all I have always found it interesting. My favorite time period to study is ancient or medieval, because  I am consistently amazed at the revelations that those people came up with.
Describe your summer research project and how it fits into the larger History of Augsburg project as a whole.
CC: We are helping Phil research and write about objects related to Augsburg’s history for the school’s sesquicentennial (150 years). Each of us picks 1-2 topics a week to study, and our goal is to write about four pages per topic by Friday, when we get together and share what we’ve written with each other. The purpose of studying Augsburg’s history in this way is to add interest…We want to write about things current students and future generations will really be interested in. It certainly makes researching more fun, at the very least.
GL: I am studying different aspects of Augsburg’s history; ranging from Peter Agre’s Nobel Prize to commuter students.
What’s the most interesting Augsburg tidbit, fact or story you’ve learned so far?
CC:  Augsburg used to forbid dancing. Basically, think of the plot of “Footloose” and you have a good idea about how people felt about it. One of the books they cited that detailed the perils of dancing was called “Jitterbugging Your Way to Hell.”
GL: That is like choosing a favorite child. However, the one that I got the most laughs out of was hearing an unconfirmed rumor that Peter Agre got a “D” in his chemistry class with his dad teaching.
How is working on a collaborative project like this different from previous research you’ve done in classes (if it is different at all)? Have you learned any new skills in the process?
CC: It’s different because we provide each other feedback at the end of the week. It can sometimes be rather brutal and honest, but we talk about our strengths and weaknesses as writers and that really helps us all grow to be better at it. I’ve already noticed a difference in my writing because of it.
GL: It is pretty nice, I have to say. The benefit comes when I need a person to bounce ideas off of and my team is right there to help, and it helps that they are all experts too.
What’s your dream job?
CC: Currently (emphasis on currently) my dream job is to be an exhibit curator or designer of some kind. I would like to work in Public History in some way, but I think it would be really interesting to write content for exhibits. I’ve always loved seeing the multitude of ways exhibits communicate information. It can teach people a lot more than a research paper in some ways, because there are so many mediums that exhibits use to communicate history.
GL: That would be the million dollar question. However I would love to be the CEO of some company or an executive of some sort. Also I think the President of the US would be a pretty good gig too.
Written by: Mary Cornelius

URGO Alum Spotlight: Megan Steffl

photo courtesy of Megan Steffl '12
photo courtesy of Megan Steffl ’13

Megan Steffl graduated from Augsburg in 2013 with a degree in sociology. She did research with Professor James Vela-McConnell during summer 2011. She is now a law student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she just completed her first year of study.

We caught up with her about what she’s up to now, how the skills she learned as an undergraduate researcher still help her today, and what tips she has for current Auggies.

How did you first get involved with research as an undergrad? Was it something you were expecting to get involved with or something that developed from your other experiences at Augsburg?

When I first came to Augsburg I wasn’t even sure what my major would be, and research was something I had not thought about much. However, I had friends that participated in URGO the summer before me, and what they were able to accomplish really inspired me. By the time URGO applications came around I had decided on a degree in Sociology, and so I sought out a professor that would be willing to work with me.

What tools did you learn as an undergrad researcher that you carried into your current position as a legal intern and student at GWU?

Time management and discipline! I met with my professor weekly, but much of my project was on my own time and required me to stay on top of things without someone telling me what to do and when. This is very similar to law school, because all of your grades are based off a single exam at the end of the semester. It taught me how to break down a project, or a semester, into smaller pieces instead of cramming at the end. This also helped me in my job before law school, because employers want to see that you are a self-starter who will get things done without being micromanaged.

Briefly describe your current research interests/law specialties (and what your URGO summer project was!).

Currently my research centers around my legal internship. Most recently I have researched legal issues surrounding employment law, collective actions and criminal welfare fraud in the District of Columbia. As a second year law student I will be on a journal and write a note, where I will research a legal issue in depth and suggest a legal solution. I am interested in the intersection of technology and law, as well as our laws surrounding maternity and paternity leave. Naturally, I will incorporate my Sociological background into any study I do.

My URGO summer project was a study on friendships between Christians and Muslims. It consisted of a literature review, and interviews with sets of friends where one was Christian and the other Muslim. There has always been tension between the two religions, but especially so since 9/11. I saw that our own community was struggling with this tension as the Somali population grew in Minneapolis, and I wanted to learn what made friendships between the two parties work, and how we could create more positive relationships.

I am still interested in fostering peaceful relationships between people of all beliefs, but now my tool is the law. I hope to become an employment law attorney and protect individuals from employment discrimination.

What’s the most exhilarating part of your current job? (Or—what does your average work/school day look like?)

Right now I am working in Washington, D.C. in what is called Judiciary Square, as it is home to most of the city’s courthouses. Every morning I come to work in Abraham Lincoln’s former office, half a block from the spot on which he gave the Emancipation Proclamation. The location and the buzz of people alone are exhilarating, but what happens in the courthouse is even more fun.

I love dissecting cases, researching the law, and writing briefs, but the best part of my job is going to court. Not only do I get to see attorneys in action, and see what my career might be like, but some wild things happen in criminal court. By the end of this summer I will have a whole collection of stories.

What tips do you have for current Auggie undergrad researchers about how they can make the most of their time in college?

Be engaged and get to know your professors. Be engaged by participating in activities that demonstrate your interest in a particular subject. You do not have to be a member of every group, and the organization does not need to be completely on point, but it’s great to be able to show an employer or graduate institution that you really are passionate about something by pointing to an organization you participated in.

Get to know a few professors well. Again, don’t spread yourself too thin, pick a few professors that specialize in your area of interest or can give you advice, and go talk to them in office hours. Tell them what you want to do and ask for their advice. They are there to help and they will! This especially applies to the professor you are working with on your research project. If you don’t have a class with them next semester, go talk to them anyway!

Make sure to maintain those relationships after graduation as well, you never know when you might need a letter of recommendation, and it is hard for a professor to write one if they don’t remember you because they haven’t heard from you in years. Another small piece of advice, if you plan to apply to graduate school, ask your professors to write a letter of recommendation while you’re still in school. It’s much easier to write a letter when you’re still in class with the professor and your performance is fresh in their mind.

Kuramoto ’15 Named Fulbright Teaching Assistant to South Korea

RecTaylor Kuramotoent graduate and mathematics major, Taylor Kuramoto, has been selected to serve as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in South Korea for the ’15-’16 academic year! Fulbright receives thousands of applications each year, and Taylor was selected by both U.S. and South Korean committees.  Taylor will be working with elementary or secondary students and will have the opportunity to live with a South Korean family in a home-stay. In her time outside of the classroom, Taylor plans to create English talking circles like those she participated in at the local Jane Addams School for Democracy as a Bonner Leader and hopes to use her experience as an Auggie soccer player to connect with students and peers through the sport.

Taylor is a natural fit for the Fulbright ETA program having spent much of her time here at Augsburg teaching and engaging youth in nearby communities. Through the Bonner Leaders Program, she has tutored K-8 students at Kaleidoscope Place, helped immigrants study for the U.S. citizenship test at Jane Addams School for Democracy, and worked with St. Paul’s ELCA youth urban gardening program.  Taylor has actively sought out additional opportunities to serve others as an Augsburg student and athlete, volunteering at youth soccer camps, going on two Campus Ministry service trips, and helping with Campus Kitchen meals.

Taylor has a passion for learning and a desire to use that knowledge to effect change. As a mathematician, she spent last summer at the National Institute of Math and Bio Synthesis at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville conducting research on the transmission of bovine respiratory disease among cattle and this summer was accepted to the University of Minnesota’s Summer Institute in Biostatistics (although she will already be overseas for her Fulbright ETA at the time of SIBS).  She is also a Sabo Scholar and served as an URGO statistics research assistant on Professor Nancy Rodenberg’s social work research on cultural competence education.  We are looking forward to hearing all that Taylor is able to learn and experience during her time in South Korea.

If you are an upcoming senior, recent graduate, or Augsburg alum and would like to learn more about the Fulbright Program, please contact URGO at or 612-330-1446 to set up an appointment. URGO works with individuals throughout the summer to explore Fulbright’s offerings, select a destination country, and prepare a competitive application.

Tips to Current Auggies from a Graduating Senior

Today is senior Anna Romskog’s last day at URGO. She graduates tomorrow. Here are a few tips she has for students at Augsburg.

“I’m going to take a page from Dixie’s book here: you actually have 11 semesters here at Augsburg, three of them are summers, use them wisely. URGO has helped me do that, with funded research between my sophomore and junior year. That opportunity opened doors for me to do other research and it is part of the reason I’m going to graduate school in the fall.

Use the resources available to you. That’s my biggest piece of advice. URGO will help you get ready for grad school and fellowship interviews, they will help you write your CV and your personal statement. They will tell you about opportunities that they think will be good for you or that you might be interested in. Kirsten, Dixie, and Catherina will help you along the way.

I have loved spending the last two years here working for URGO. I have seen how deeply they care about students and how much they want to help people reach their goals, whether that’s grad school, research, traveling to present research or fellowships. URGO helps you achieve. Dixie, Kirsten, and Catherina give their all to help students and they drag you into the URGO family. I’m sad to leave them but I’m looking forward to the next opportunity they have help me achieve.”

Augsburg’s Best Showing In Goldwater Competition

Juniors FikGoldwater close upre Beyene (Physics) and Lyle Nyberg (Biology and Chemistry) have been selected as Goldwater Scholars, and junior Andris Bibelnieks (Math, Physics & Computer Science), as Goldwater Honorable Mention.  The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type for students pursuing research careers in STEM.

Winners receive up to $7,500 for undergraduate education costs.  More valuable than the monetary award is the moniker “Goldwater Scholar,” which serves as a shorthand to graduate and fellowship programs that these STEM students are among the nation’s top undergraduates in their respective areas. For example, recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 86 Rhodes Scholarships, 123 Marshall Awards, 123 Churchill Scholarships, and numerous other distinguished fellowships, such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.

Lyle, Fikre, and Andris were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,206 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. Each college, regardless of the size or kind of institution, can nominate only four candidates. Candidates are carefully vetted by each sponsoring institution so the resulting field is formidable.

This year, among Minnesota private schools, Augsburg had the highest number of scholars (Augsburg with two and St. Olaf and Gustavus each with one), and when honorable mentions are included Augsburg rose to the top as well.

All Augsburg nominees participated in research on campus under the guidance of faculty mentors. Augsburg’s STEM departments are dedicated to creating opportunities where students can play a significant role in the research process.  These experiences helped students develop a deeper understanding of their projects and their fields, as was evident in the quality of their applications.


Fikre Beyene (Sundquist Scholar, McNair Scholar, Rossing Physics Honorable Mention ’14, Rossing Physics Scholar ’15, and AugSTEM scholar) has worked in Dr. David Murr’s space physics lab and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Cosmology and conduct research investigating dark matter and the early stages of the universe. He will continue his research with Dr. Murr this summer.

Lyle Nyberg (Lindstrom Scholar) has worked with Dr. Vivian Feng at the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology housed at the U of M. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and enlist in the Air Force where he hopes to conduct research aboard the International Space Station. Last fall he was selected to participate in an informational weekend at the famous Scripps Research Institute in Florida In April, he co-presented (with Augsburg student Hilena Frew) his research on nanotechnology at Harvard University. This summer he will be conducting research at University of Pennsylvania.

Andris Bibelnieks has worked with Dr. Ben Stottrup and Dr. Pavel Belik and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics  and conduct research to create new composite materials. This summer he will return to the Boundary Waters as an outfitter, where his interest in composite canoe materials first was sparked.
URGO wants to thank the applicants for their hard work, the faculty letter writers who took great care to write meaningful and convincing letters, and research mentors  and classroom teachers for developing these students as researchers.
It’s a great time for science as Augsburg.

Zyzzogeton 2015

This year’s Zyzzogeton was a huge success! We had 85 presenters from 21 different departments on campus present their research. It was an excellent event and it was great to see what students had been working on. Check out the gallery below to see some of the posters that were presented at Zyzzogeton.