Augsburg is closing the distance between Riverside Avenue in Minneapolis and Riverside, California through the successful partnership of Augsburg faculty, alumni, college programs—and, of course—talented students.
The collaboration is proving so effective that faculty mentors at the University of California-Riverside are calling for more Auggies. When Dixie Shafer, director of Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity (URGO), visited doctoral candidate Tom Lopez ’11, she heard in no uncertain terms from Lopez’s mentor and department of mechanical engineering faculty member Lorenzo Mangolini:
“I want more of your students. I want more Augsburg students. Your students know what they’re doing in the lab from day one.”
Over the past six years, several Augsburg graduates have landed at UC-Riverside with full funding to attend doctoral programs. The students have a team of Auggie advocates supporting them all the way. The team includes staff from TRIO/McNair Scholars; URGO; STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Programs; and alumni who have walked a similar path.
The Riverside pipeline
Augsburg sociology alumni Matthew Dunn ’08, Jenna Mead ’09, and Zach Sommer ’10 were among the first Auggies to blaze a trail to UC-Riverside. They were later joined by Lopez and doctoral candidate Justin Gyllen ’11, a computer scientist and physicist working on an educational technology project to help first-year engineering students improve their note-taking.
Now those Auggies have been joined by two more alumni from the physics and math departments: Gottlieb Uahengo ’13 and Amir Rose ’14.
Rose, one of five Augsburg McNair Scholars to attend UC-Riverside, credits that program’s role in his success. The McNair program is a two-year opportunity that helps prepare low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students for graduate school. Rose, whose current research is focused on breeding sterile mosquitoes to eradicate populations of disease-spreading mosquitoes, also credits Augsburg physics professor David Murr ’92 for teaching him research skills and independent thinking.
Even current Augsburg students gain research experience at UC-Riverside. Last summer, chemistry student Oscar Martinez ’16 worked with Lopez and also traveled to Scripps Research Institute in Florida.
Circle of Support
Now that these Auggies are studying and researching in Riverside, Dr. Steve Larson ’72 says it’s his turn to help. Larson, a member of the Augsburg Board of Regents, has been in California since 1980.
Three years ago, Larson, chief executive officer and board chair for Riverside Medical Clinic and a generous supporter of the Norman and Evangeline Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, found out that there was not just one, but a group of Auggies in Riverside, and he invited them to dinner at his home. He has had them back every year, and has been joined by Augsburg College President Paul Pribbenow and Shafer.
“We all have something in common,” Larson said of his dinners with the Augsburg alumni and students. “Everyone appreciates what happens at Augsburg College.”
There’s a circle of involvement with the College, Larson explained, that begins as a student, continues as alumni go out into the world, and finally turns back to support student success and the future of the College. “This is my turn,” he said.
He is excited for how the Hagfors Center will continue to inspire high-caliber students and faculty to take their work to the next level.
“Keep those Auggies coming,” Larson said.