SPEARFISH | Alumni who complete biomedical research while studying at Black Hills State University are succeeding in doctoral programs and making great strides in their scientific careers.
Since 2008, the South Dakota Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (SD BRIN) has provided 142 Undergraduate Research fellowship awards to 95 individual BHSU students. Fellowships are paid opportunities for students to put scientific principles into practice.
Dr. Cynthia Anderson, program coordinator for SD BRIN and associate professor of biology at BHSU, says this experience prepares students to do well when applying to graduate programs.
“Throughout their research term, students will apply problem-solving skills to formulate testable hypotheses, work with their faculty mentor to design experiments, learn research techniques, gather and analyze data, and participate in the writing and presentation of their research findings,” said Anderson.
Three recent and notable alumni who had BRIN fellowships at BHSU include:
Mallory (Ageton) Ballinger, Class of 2013, a PhD candidate in integrative biology at the University of California Berkeley
Hayden Bender, Class of 2016, PhD student in molecular, cellular and organismal biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston
Michael Hurst, Class of 2017, a PhD student in chemistry at the University of Oregon
Neal Porter, chemistry major from Spearfish, is one of seven BHSU students who received $4,000 fellowships from BRIN this year. A sophomore in the pre-dentistry track at BHSU, Neal said he chose to attend BHSU after talking with several dentists in the community who spoke highly of the program.
“It’s a great program. The science faculty go to great lengths to help their students,” said Neal. “Participating in SD BRIN is an excellent resume builder. When I started the project, I had minimal experience in the lab. Now I’m here several times a week doing hands-on chemistry research.”
Dr. Katrina Jensen, associate professor of chemistry, is Neal’s fellowship mentor. In his research project, Jensen said Neal is learning how to set up chemical reactions, handle air-sensitive compounds, purify organic compounds, and determine the structure of organic molecules using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.
“Neal is an exceptionally hardworking student with great aptitude for organic chemistry,” said Jensen. “He has the potential to be a really great scientist.”
Other BHSU students who received a SD BRIN fellowship for the 2018-19 academic year:
Daniel Borchert, biology major from Black Hawk working with Dr. Amy Asunskis
Tyler Bortz, biology and mass communication major from Colstrip, Mont., working with Dr. Justin Ramsey
Cathryn Hester, biology major from Rapid City working with Dr. Justin Ramsey
Dillon Vanetti, chemistry major from Casper, Wyo., working with Dr. John Dixson
Allen Wellman, biology major from Summerset working with Dr. John Dixson
Kelsey Wood, biology major from Newcastle, Wyo., working with Dr. Cynthia Anderson
BHSU a Military Friendly campus
Black Hills State University was recently named a Military Friendly School. This designation indicates BHSU has exceptional military/veteran programs.
Greg Krajewski, veterans resource coordinator at BHSU, said the Military Friendly honor is meaningful for the university and for students. BHSU earned the Bronze distinction for schools scoring within 30 percent of the 10th best school in their category.
“Although this is great news for our university, it's even better news for our students, as it shows we are an institution with a vested interest in making sure you, the veteran, and your dependents not only feel comfortable here, but are getting a world-class education,” said Krajewski.
As mentioned in the national listing, BHSU offers reduced tuition of $246.35 per credit hour for all current and active military personnel. With the federal government tuition assistance of $250, the reduced rate covers the full cost of a military student’s education.
Military Friendly is the standard that measures an organization’s commitment, effort and success in creating sustainable and meaningful benefits for the military community. Military Friendly Schools survey is the longest-running, most comprehensive review of college and university investments in serving military and veteran students.
BHSU exceeded the Military Friendly standards in all categories: academic policies and compliance, admission and orientation, culture and commitment, financial aid and assistance, graduation and career, and military support and retention.
Krajewski, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran and retired S.D. Army National Guardsman, said veterans and their dependents experience a military-friendly environment at BHSU with unlimited opportunities.
“BHSU is committed to providing programs and support to improve the lives of veterans through education, whether our military veterans enroll for a few classes or completing a degree onsite or online through our university,” said Krajewski.
The 2019-2020 Military Friendly Schools list will be published in the May issue of G.I. Jobs magazine. The list can also be found at militaryfriendly.com.