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Pre-Health Newsletter: October 9, 2020

Pre-health Advising

I hope fall semester is going well for you and you are staying healthy! COVID-19 has precipitated many changes and requires us to be flexible and creative. These are important attributes to demonstrate, especially for pre-health students. One major change for pre-health students is how to gain experience during a pandemic. What many admissions offices, across all programs, have shared is the continued need to gain experience although there may be fewer opportunities to meet in person or to shadow. For that reason, virtual information sessions are more important than ever. Please consider participating in the following opportunities I am hosting or those shared in the newsletter:
Continue reading “Pre-Health Newsletter: October 9, 2020”

Pre-Health Newsletter: August 24, 2020

COVID-19 Tracer Opportunity for Pre-Health Students

The National Alliance of Research Associates Programs (NARAP) has brought thousands of pre-health professions students from colleges and universities around the country into emergency departments (EDs) as Research Associates (RAs), data collectors for clinical research. Continue reading “Pre-Health Newsletter: August 24, 2020”

URGO Alums Working with COVID give Advice to Current Undergraduate

Augsburg URGO students often leave our campus with large dreams of affecting change in the world around them. Two such students are Will Matchett PhD ’13 and Brittany Kimball MD ’13. These alumni pursued different career paths in STEM that are directly shaping healthcare in our current COVID world.

Will Matchett, PhD

Will Matchett PhD '13
Will Matchett ’13

Matchett, who graduated from Augsburg with a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Chemistry, took a gap year in 2013 before pursuing a Ph.D. in Virology and Gene Therapy from the Mayo Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He now works as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota, where he will spend 3-5 years acquiring training that will allow him to run his own lab someday. His current research revolves around COVID, infecting cells from the bronchial tube with the virus that causes COVID to understand what types of cells are being infected and what happens to them at a molecular level. This line of work directly affects the creation of new therapies for COVID, which in turn makes Matchett’s work at the lab relevant to all our lives.

Matchett was undecided about his major when he came to Augsburg, but upon taking an entry-level science course, he realized the subject was a passion that could lead to a future career. He found a home in the biology department and utilized multiple campus resources to affirm this science career path. The Strommen Center provided career exams that gave insight into what job sectors fit Matchett best, while his research experiences with URGO and the Mayo Clinic confirmed his skill and desire to be a scientist. One gap year and Ph.D. later, Matchett is working to be a leader in science, hoping to one day teach at a small university like Augsburg. His best pieces of advice to undergraduates? Get involved with research outside the classroom to know whether a science career fits you, and most importantly, listen to URGO and the other resources available to you on campus.

Brittany Kimball MD '13
Brittany Kimball ’13

Brittany Kimball, MD

While Matchett studied biology at Augsburg, Kimball studied alongside him with a different career path in mind. Her dream since 17 years old was to be a doctor, inspired by her mother’s work as a nurse. Her time at Augsburg was shaped by volunteering opportunities with the Campus Kitchen and Health Commons, as well as a research opportunity in bioethics at Mayo Clinic. After graduating with a B.S. in Biology from Augsburg, Kimball attended medical school at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and is currently in her third year of residency at the University of Minnesota in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. After residency, she’d like to pursue a fellowship in hematology/oncology, but her current work is being colored by the world’s COVID environment.

The methods and practices of her residency look much different during a global pandemic. Kimball is on a constant learning curve, reading ever-changing literature about COVID and finding new ways to support patients in an environment where most human connection has had to be removed from the job. Virtual visits with outpatients have become a key part of her work, while also continuing to care for those in the hospital in the safest ways possible. To keep her resiliency in that environment, Kimball leans on her support system at home and diverts energy into finding new resources and ways to support her patients, aiming to give the highest standard of personable medical care during this difficult time. Her advice to students considering med school is to garner as many varied experiences as possible. “There are many parts that make up medicine,” reflects Kimball. “Make sure you explore all the parts.” Prospective med students should spend time around both research and community health.

Advice for Undergraduates

Both Matchett and Kimball recognize their undergraduate experiences are different than those available to current Auggies during a pandemic. However, they offer some suggestions for gaining important experience in this new, largely virtual environment.

For pre-med students, medicine is about connectedness and caring for the community.

  • During COVID, be politically active (writing letters and researching issues).
  • Do volunteer work for local community organizations.
  • Get involved with Augsburg campus initiatives like Campus Kitchen or the Health Commons.
  • Consider working as a contact tracer.

For researchers, continuing to gain perspective on research as a career is imperative.

  • Reach out to scientists for informational interviews to learn about their experiences and gain insight on what their job is like.
  • Seek out research opportunities such as academic year and summer research through URGO.

If you are a student interested in speaking with either Kimball or Matchett about their experiences, reach out to to get connected.

Pre-Health Newsletter: July 17, 2020

Pre-Health Advising Updates

Scholarship for Kaplan Course

I am often asked about test prep resources, so I was surprised (and disappointed) that no one applied to receive my scholarship for a Kaplan MCAT, DAT, OAT, or PCAT course, valued at up to $2,499. The deadline to apply has been extended to August 14, 2020. To be eligible for consideration, you must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher, and plan to take the MCAT, DAT, OAT, or PCAT before June 30, 2021. To apply, click on the button below.
Continue reading “Pre-Health Newsletter: July 17, 2020”

Exciting Research News for URGO Alum!

URGO alum Mathia (Tia) Colwell ’15 was recently awarded the Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (DDF) through the University of Minnesota. According to UMN, “The Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (DDF) gives the University’s most accomplished Ph.D. candidates an opportunity to devote full-time effort to an outstanding research project by providing time to finalize and write a dissertation during the fellowship year.” If this award is not enough to convince you of Colwell’s academic prowess, she was also awarded the F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award through the National Institute of Health (NIH), which provides two years of funding for her research.

These incredibly impressive accomplishments come after years of study and research that began during Colwell’s time at Augsburg. A graduate from Augsburg’s biology department, her research experience in 2015 under Dr. Ralph Butkowski was a catalyst for her career as a research scientist. “Participating in URGO established a basic foundation of what I could expect in graduate school with developing the logic behind research design,” she said. “I enjoyed the URGO experience so much, that I was thrilled to learn I could pursue a career in research by attending graduate school.” Colwell is currently in the third year of her Ph.D. program, designing and working on a project that investigates the multigenerational effects of arsenic exposure during pregnancy on the epigenome.

Congratulations Tia for your impressive work as a scientist!

The Impact of Off-Campus Research

Laura Fricke '19
Laura Fricke ’19

One of URGO’s primary roles on campus is to offer academic year and summer research opportunities to students across campus. Additionally, URGO helps students find off-campus research opportunities that diversify their portfolio and build their research skills. One alum who chose to look off-campus was Laura Fricke ’19.

Fricke conducted research under Dr. Matthew Beckman in the summer of 2018. URGO helped her discover that a future of scientific research may be the career for her, but Fricke wanted to verify that hypothesis in a new, exciting environment. She turned to the National Science Foundation (NSF). The foundation funds Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) all over the nation; this was the avenue through which Fricke found her REU at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City. She used her interests from URGO’s lab (functional genomics as well as evolutionary and developmental biology) to find a specific project and mentor that interested her. Fricke spent the summer of 2019 living in NYC with a cohort of 9 other researchers; they attended classes through the AMNH’s graduate school every Monday and spent the rest of the week on their respective research projects. Fricke conducted research on the cuticular pattern formation of hexapods and did so mostly independently after learning new protocols and research methods. Her summer concluded with the submission of a research paper and an oral presentation to 50-70 scientific professionals at the museum. While this off-campus research offered valuable exposure to new methods, equipment, and skills, Fricke emphasized the lessons from URGO that prepared her for her REU. “I took the protocols and methods from URGO [to New York],” said Fricke, “as well as time management, navigating a lab, speaking to a mentor, and writing scientific papers.” The two experiences built upon each other to help Fricke learn about herself as a scientist and confirm her career goals as a researcher.

Upon completion of her REU, Fricke applied to graduate school and will now be being pursuing a Ph.D. in Entomology and Microbiology at the University of Minnesota this fall. Additionally, she was awarded a Diversity of View and Experience Fellowship (DOVE), a prestigious award that funds two years of graduate study to 18 students at UMN.

Fricke believes there are many reasons current Auggies should pursue off-campus research.

  • A second research experience sets apart graduate school and scholarship applicants.
  • More people can attest to your abilities as a researcher and student and provide meaningful recommendations.
  • If you conduct research in a new place, you are exposed to a different culture and way of life that widens your worldview.

Without her NSF REU, Fricke does not think she would be in the position she is today, confident in her career as a scientist and pursuing a field of study she could never have imagined without her research experiences. If you have not considered pursuing an off-campus research opportunity, let Fricke’s story inspire you to do so.

Pre-Health Newsletter: July 7, 2020

Pre-Health Advising Updates

This past week I attended the virtual National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions national conference. I am sharing a lot of information, but read to the end, especially if you need to take the MCAT, DAT, OAT, or PCAT.

One theme that resonated throughout presentations is the broad and deep impact of COVID-19. Schools are forced to do a more holistic review of applications because of the impact on academics and experiences. Be prepared to speak to those impacts and what you have done to address those impacts. Continue reading “Pre-Health Newsletter: July 7, 2020”

2020 Fulbright Winners

URGO is proud to share that we have four Fulbright winners this year!

  • Winni Godi ’17 has received an ETA Fulbright to Rwanda.
  • Abdulkadir Sharif ’20 and Eh Soe Dwe ’20 each won an ETA Fulbright to Malaysia.
  • Natalya Arevalo ’20 was granted an ETA Fulbright to Honduras.

URGO’s history with Fulbright is a long and successful one. In February, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs listed Augsburg University among top 5 producers of Fulbright students at master’s level institution, the sixth time Augsburg was ranked on the list.

The Fulbright program offers recent graduates and graduate students opportunities for research, study, and teaching in more than 140 countries. Since 2007, Augsburg University has had 34 Fulbright students selected for their academic merit and leadership potential.

Read about our most recent Fulbright winners, their past successes, and the exciting work ahead of them!

URGO Alumni Reflect on Impact of Public Health on COVID-19

The global pandemic that has swept the world has put a bright spotlight on public health, an important healthcare avenue that directly affects populations across the globe. We spoke with three recent Augsburg graduates pursuing careers in this field, allowing them to shed light on their experiences and the special role public health plays in this crisis.

Sydney Busch '18
Sydney Busch ’18

Sydney Busch ’18 is an URGO alum who will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Biostatistics at Emory University in their Rollins School of Public Health come fall. Her interest in this discipline stems from a love for biology and statistics that was nurtured through her research with Dr. Bankers-Fulbright at Augsburg in 2016. Her B.S. in mathematics and biology laid the foundation for her work as a biomedical modeler at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center where she creates data models that help the public comprehend the tracking and timeline of COVID-19. “Public health has the capacity to reach so many [people] versus one person at a time,” says Busch. Her current work gives her extraordinary experience in her Ph.D. specialty of infectious disease modeling. Busch is excited to continue her education in a field that has become more relevant than ever before.

Chung Lip '18
Chung Lip ’18

Chung Lip ’18 graduated from Augsburg with a double major in biology and psychology before continuing in a Masters of Public Health Program at Columbia that he graduated from this spring. With his current master’s degree, he is a Public Health Education Specialist specializing in population and family health. According to Lip, his specialty is not designed for times like our current epidemic, so he is continuing his education on a somewhat untraditional path. He will join an accelerated nursing program at Mount Aloysius College so he can one day provide health education in a clinical setting, working directly with patients. Lip says that public health is usually behind the scenes, but this pandemic has allowed for it to be visible and recognized as imperative to our nation’s health.

Hamdi Adam '18
Hamdi Adam ’18

Hamdi Adam ’18 followed his B.S. in biology from Augsburg with a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Minnesota. His specialty is epidemiology, a domain that he found through his research experiences at URGO and UMN. Adam loves that URGO allowed him to see “science in real life,” Following that “real life” calling, and feeling boxed in by biomed research or med school tracks, led Adam to public health. As a man of East African immigrant heritage, Adam is interested in chronic disease and cardio research that will directly impact his community. His goal is health equity, finding the causes of disparities to develop tailored intervention. Seeing as COVID-19 disproportionately affects African American communities, his goal to expand specialized community research is relevant and imperative now. Adam will continue his education with a Ph.D. in Epidemiology at UMN this fall.