MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune 

February 17, 2018

 MSU’s biology program graduates enjoy great career and educational opportunities

Ashlee Nelson.jpgMayville State has a history of providing a wonderful basis of pedagogy and experiences that set graduates of science and biology programs on to a path to success and fulfillment. Many further their education and enjoy satisfying careers as doctors not only in the medical field, but also as holders of Ph.D.s who are researchers and teachers in advanced capacities. The experiences gained at Mayville State open doors for exciting opportunities for these graduates.

One such alumna is Ashlee Nelson from Lindstrom, Minn. She graduated from Mayville State in December of 2016 with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. In August of 2017, she began working toward a Ph.D. in Clinical and Translational Science at the University of North Dakota. Her goal is to complete a doctorate degree and secure a position at a university where she can teach and share her passion for the sciences while maintaining a place in a research laboratory.

At Mayville State, Ashlee’s educational path included biology and chemistry courses such as zoology, microbiology, and organic chemistry, among others. Most courses had a lab component to supplement the classroom learning. She also opted to take elective courses such as human parasitology and immunology. These courses further developed her interest and experience in the field of science.

As a Mayville State student, Ashlee was fortunate to spend two years working in the lab of Dr. Joseph Mehus, MSU assistant professor of biology and INBRE researcher.

Reflecting on the experience, Ashlee said, “It was such a great opportunity to be able to relate the scientific method we learned in the classroom to laboratory settings, where the students are fully responsible for the experimental design and carrying out the experiment in its entirety, including data collection and analysis.”

In her second year, Nelson returned to the Mehus lab as the head undergraduate researcher. In this capacity, Ashlee learned a lot about time management, delegating tasks, and problem solving. She learned leadership skills that she has taken with her and that she continues to use in her studies. She feels these tools will be indispensable to her future career.

Ashlee also worked in the lab of Dr. Thomas Gonnella, MSU professor of chemistry and INBRE researcher. There she gained experience in the field of chemistry.

“Both labs provided me with a platform where I could learn and discuss the projects at a professional level. I presented my work in multiple regional poster sessions. I also had the privilege of giving a talk at the North Dakota INBRE Symposium at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences on the campus of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks in October of 2017. Learning to speak in front of an audience of peers and mentors has been so valuable. It has taught me confidence and allowed for networking opportunities, which is vital to an academic experience.”

Ashlee says the faculty at Mayville State strive to offer an inclusive learning environment, where many methods, including lecture, PowerPoint presentations, projects, labs, and more, are used to teach all types of students.

“Dr. Mehus was instrumental in my learning career at Mayville State. He challenged me to work hard and ask questions beyond the scope of a textbook. He believes in the potential of students and cares about their success. Dr. Sarah Sletten also played a role in my undergraduate studies by sharing her excitement for science and learning.”

Nelson also credits Kristi Lentz, MSU Director of Counseling and Freshmen Retention Services, for her success at Mayville State. “I would not be where I am without Kristi. She helps students to find their balance in life, which leads to your best performance, academically and otherwise.”

We are extremely proud of Ashlee and all of our graduates who are making a positive difference in the world. We look forward to hearing about all of the good things we know are in her future. Likewise, we commend our faculty and staff who go above and beyond to ensure that our students get the best possible education and help light the fire for future success.