Posts (16)

2 days ago · How do we improve the status of mental health in graduate school?

A recent article in The Atlantic covering the mental health disorders people suffer with in graduate school recently popped up on my suggested articles on Google, and on my Facebook timeline (I will give up Facebook, eventually). In the Facebook comments, and in the post sharing this article, people overwhelmingly agreed that this was nothing new. The overwhelming response was, “well, duh!”. The Atlantic, also published letters to the writer, Alia Wong, discussing the issues they have seen during their education regardless of the field of study.

This brings about a bigger problem seen in academia. I see at least one article every few months with new data concerning the mental health of students in graduate school published in Nature or Science, and indeed the data is concerning. It is a major issue that we do not really talk about. The Atlantic article references a Harvard-affiliated study that followed Ph.D. candidates at eight universities in the economics field where 18% of graduate students reported they experienced symptoms of moderate or severe depression and anxiety.

Source: Evans, et al, 2018. Nature Biotechnology.

Earlier this year, a Nature Biotechnology study called the mental health status of students in graduate schools a “crisis”, and called for possible interventions to help students suffering from these mental health issues. The data in this study surveyed 2279 individuals of which 90% of individuals were enrolled in Ph.D. and 10% enrolled in Master’s programs (these individuals represented 26 countries, and 234 institutions) based on clinically standardized surveys (GAD-07 for anxiety, and PHQ-9 for depression). The not-so shocking results of the study showed that 41% of individuals surveyed reported moderate to severe anxiety whereas 39% reported moderate to severe depression. To put this in perspective, and the authors pointed this out well, 6% of the general population reports moderate to severe depression. Transgender individuals (including gender non-conforming), and women, also showed higher rates of depression and anxiety, which mirrors rates of that seen amongst non-research cohorts. Work-life balance, and the mentor/mentee relationship also impacts rates of depression and anxiety among graduate students (supplementary information provided by the group).

Now, I have thought about this a lot since I read that original The Atlantic article, which was a few weeks ago at this point (this topic is particularly heavy for me, and it has taken me time to comb through the plethora of articles on this subject). Based on what I read, I noted that while there is a substantial amount of science on the numbers of students who suffer from mental illness, and there are other studies that are yet to be done that could give us more insight into particular institutions, and fields.  With the exception of the Nature Biotechnology article, not many of these articles point to a solution, which I admit is tricky to come up with an overarching solution for each person in every field.  So, what can we do as individuals to improve the situation of mental health in graduate school? 

Raise awareness. We recently had a graduate school mental health session campus provided by our Graduate Student Association in collaboration with Initiatives for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program. This experience, which I’ll discuss in a future blog post, brought awareness to students of what mental illnesses are, and what they aren’t. I think the most important part was the point of raising awareness to what depression and anxiety are, and how they can manifest in graduate school.

Fight the stigma and share your story. The articles I read on the status of mental health in graduate school not only include the staggering statistics of mental health-related conditions affecting graduate students, but touching personal stories from students sharing their own personal struggles. If your own institution does not offer resources for mental health support (or if they are limited), it may be helpful to read about someone else’s experiences to help you feel less alone. This avenue of sharing also helps fight the stigma that mental health disorders may make you seem weak, or lesser than others. They absolutely do not. Having a mental health disorder absolutely does not make you less of a person, scientist, friend, significant other, or any sort of identifier you can think of. By sharing our experiences, we can encourage each other to speak more openly about the issues we face as individuals.

Demand resources for graduate students and postdocs. Many institutions have taken note of the current situation concerning mental health of trainees, and have employed resources for graduate students to take advantage of if they are experiencing mental health issues. Our institution provides mental health clinicians to talk to, access to licensed counselors, and started a Wellness Program specifically for graduate students. Sharing the resources with others who may not know how to utilize them, is also beneficial, especially if someone is scared or concerned about confidentiality or concerned about the services offered at each institution.

Check on friends and create a supportive network. We all have the best intentions when wanting to keep up with all of our friends, but life and grad school can get in the way of that. Being kind to our friends, neighbors, lab mates, and peers could make a magnitude of difference when it comes to mental health. Making networks of people that lift each other up, help one another out when things get tough, and are just there for each other has drastically improved my mental health. Further than this, graduate schools can implement safe spaces for students to share their stories, personal struggles, and interact with potential mentors who can provide advice, or their own experiences.

If you have any comments on how we can improve the situation of mental health in graduate school, please let us know. We would love for this to be an open forum for discussion. What would you like to see in your institution?

About the author: Crystal Mendoza is a graduate student in the Virology and Gene Therapy program doing her thesis on the development of therapeutics for tickborne viral diseases. She enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her corgi, Chente.

Fri, Oct 19 3:43pm · Book Review: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

By: TL Jordan

Representation is incredibly important. Not just in our media, but in our everyday lives. When we are young we look up to people and dream about seeing ourselves in their shoes. Young children look to see themselves reflected in everyday life as teachers, astronauts, politicians, actors, artists, scientists, and so much more. It is also just as important that we continue to see representation as we get older.  Lab Girl is an extremely good example of the honest representation of a woman in science.

Courtesy of MPR and Knopf

Though we have moved forward in seeing more women in tenured research positions, but that portrayal is not always honest. We see these women, but we don’t see the struggle, the harassment, the pain. We don’t see the odds that they overcame, and the hard work they put in to keep their heads above water in a field that is dominated by white cishet men.

Hope Jahren, a Minnesota native, lays out her entire journey from child to tenured researcher in this memoir and interlaces every memory with eloquent narratives on trees and the life of a plant. Anyone who has ever had any aspirations of moving into science, particularly as a person assigned female at birth, will relate to Jahren’s recounting of being a young inquisitive scientist, as she learns from various people in her life and eventually grows into the scientist she is now. Her story recounts relationships that are difficult to not relate to people in your own life, and absurd scenarios that are so specific you wonder how they even happened to the author herself.

The most important part of this journey, in addition recounting her struggle becoming scientist as a woman, is becoming and continuing to be a scientist while battling mental illness. Jahren recounts her own experiences shadowboxing her invisible demons, and still trying to continue being productive and move her career forward. She does not make her experiences sound pretty, but gives you each difficult detail that truly depicts what it is like to live with mental illness. Mental illness is not talked about enough in science, despite awareness becoming more common place, and mental illness is certainly not talked enough amongst high ranking scientists. As students we hear article on article reminding us that graduate students are the most vulnerable population for depression and anxiety, but we see our mentors and superiors succeeding with no sign that any of them could possible carry the same internal pain. Lab Girl does a great job of smashing that barrier.

Hope Jahren is a very successful scientist, but that success was not handed to her. Her writing is as honest as it is inspiring, and anyone who is a minority in science will find this book to be relatable and important as they fight through their own battles in academia.

About the author: TL Jordan (They/Them) is a second year immunology graduate student working in the Ramirez-Alvarado lab. They passionate about science communication, science advocacy, and LGBTQ equality. In addition to their graduate studies they are the Social Media representative of the Graduate Student Association, the Chair of the LGBTI MERG Student Group, and the assistant goalkeeper coach at RCTC. They believe firmly that science should be accessible to everyone.

Thu, Oct 4 4:52pm · Voting Supports Our Wellness

By: Josiane Joseph

In 2008, I was an unassuming teenager with serious goals that included finding ways to get to the beach and hoarding enough clothes to ensure that I always had a unique ensemble to wear. My understanding of the three branches of government was fair, but I harbored an excessive amount of apathy for those who contributed as leaders. This apathy persisted because, though it was not perfect, life was comfortable and I had no experiences with anything better.

What I failed to see then was how the civic motions shaped everything around me from my relationships to the food I was offered at school. For example, on a 100 degree day I might ask a classmate “hey, do you want to get ice cream from the vending machine” and immediately it could be shot down with: “Listen, it’s a recession. People are losing their homes out there. I can’t be using my lifesavings on a popsicle when water is free”. The other heads around would nod as the words “true” or “for real” rung out. Who could argue with that?  In fact I often used similar retorts to avoid dinner or movie plans. Gas was also costly then so in addition to calculating the cost to fund activities; I would have to factor in a few dollars to contribute to my friend’s tank. (It was better and easier to be broke at home.)

Photo Credit: Pexels

Amidst that recession, I witnessed a national first. After November 4th, 2008 the truth of Young Jeezy’s lyrics “My president is black, my lambo’s blue” blasted out of cars almost weekly, and celebration was rampant. The day of the election, I watched as minorities stood in tears on television screens; everyone was talking about our new president. Meanwhile I was trying to understand why people were making a big deal over something so simple as an election. Back then, I was blind to how my life would soon change for the better.

With that election I gained a First Lady truly concerned with the health of American people. For the first time I recognized her as she danced on my favorite shows to promote physical activity. Before my eyes was a reminder of how much I loved to dance. Though I would cringe while watching her eat kale chips, by 2013 she nearly had me convinced that kale was human food, and more incredibly I was almost sure that it was acceptable to have kale as the major portion of a meal. When I wore a pretty dress, rather than being compared to a professional twerker/singer, I was now likened to a woman with a law degree who supported someone in the highest office in the United States (though I rarely appreciate a comparison to another woman, at least I was associated to someone highly educated as I aspired to be).

In 2015, I got a new car and moved to Rochester, Minnesota. Instead of lamenting the gas prices as I was used to doing with friends in 2008, I was giggling over the phone with my sister about my plans to hold off on filling my tank until prices were back to somewhere below $1.50. There was no need to worry about how much gas I was burning from perpetually being lost in a new city because I had no substantial debt and was enrolled in a program with enough provision for my present and my future. That is the legacy I have from the Obama administration. An education entirely covered by merit based scholarships and government funding mechanisms. In 2015 I even had free health insurance. Financially, I could see nothing to hinder my ability to pursue my ambitions.

Leading up to the 2016 election, one of the major benefits touted by republican supporters was the economic benefit that would come from having a businessperson in office. But since then I have been watching (as I always do) for gas prices to fall below even $2, and I have not been granted the opportunity to giggle with my sister about those savings. I am paying for health insurance that I avoid using (because of cost among other valid concerns). Compounding this offense is the constant news of budget cuts to education (which often affect STEM programs like those I benefited from) and FEMA (which is particularly pertinent to the ability of Floridians to bounce back after disasters), and no good plan for making healthcare accessible. All of these trends have continued while republicans have held an advantage in at least the legislative branch of government (but more recently all three branches).

At my current stage in life, I can no longer accept my life as comfortable. Not when I have experienced executive leadership without bullying and scandal attached. Not after I have personally improved from an active and honorable first lady. And especially not after I nearly had affordable healthcare in my sight and lived the life of someone never denied a quality education. That is why I am planning to show up for midterm elections on November 6th.

That people with higher education and access to primary care have better health outcomes is a well-established concept. Furthermore, a healthy and educated demographic is more likely to support the economy. Considering this information those concerned with the economy should see that it just makes sense to support candidates that take human health and education seriously.

From 2008-2016 the US was represented by a pair of individuals that have tangibly improved my health through health advocacy and legislation. The economic circumstances they (or at least the president) contributed to freed my mind of unrealistic financial obligations so that I had room to mature as a dancing adult that understood that my health is my business. And by simply existing the Obamas changed the language around me so that I knew to aspire to more for myself and for others. It alarms me that children after me might be influenced by lack (like we all were in the era before 2008) and will have to develop without examples of integrity in the white house. It is for all of these reasons that I am looking forward to future elections. America is a great home where many citizens and residents benefit greatly from the present democracy. But can we improve circumstances for the next generation? “Yes we can.” So let’s move “forward” on November 6th.

About the author:

Josiane Joseph is a Haitian-American MD/PhD student at Mayo Clinic. She was born in Miami, Florida and earned her B.S. at the University of Florida in 2015. During her free time she enjoys movies, writing, attending High Point church, and learning about what makes other individuals unique. Josiane values discussions of meaningful issues and looks forward to sharing diverse views with others.


From the Editor in Chief:

For voting in Minnesota, please visit:

For voting in Arizona, please visit:

For voting in Florida, please visit:

Tue, Oct 2 1:08pm · Pronouns: The Minimum

By: Torri Jordan

Merriam Webster defines a pronoun as “any a small set of words in a language that are used as substitutes for nouns or noun phrases whose referents are named or understood in the context” Simpler, you could define a pronoun as a small set of words that replace a noun. Even simpler, they are words used to replace a name.

There’s an inherent amount of respect in a name, being that it is the thing by which we are referred to, part of our identity, and that we use to define ourselves differently from the people around us. (At least, when we are talking about identity on such a small level as a name.) A name can define a brand, a clan, a monarchy. We watch television shows all the time that have central themes focused around tarnishing the family name, living up to the family name, or being stripped of a name in disgrace. There is power in a name.

So, why is it that we do not give the same amount of respect to one’s pronouns, if they are being used to replace something as important as a name?

In our language classes (my education being based in English) we are taught a set of words that we can used when referring to other people: he, she, it, they, you, me, I, we, us. The third person set of pronouns are the ones where gender becomes important, and where many people fall short, in regards to properly referring to other people: he, she, they, it. We do not use ‘it’ as a pronoun to define other human beings, which leaves three classical pronouns: he, she, they.

When we meet new people, one of the first things we ask is their name. We want to be able to correctly identify them. It makes sense that we should also be asking the pronoun that person uses as well. If a name is important, so should be the words that we use to replace their name. Especially since those third person pronouns have an inherent gender behind them. We don’t make an assumption on what someone’s name is, so we should also not be making assumptions on what someone’s pronoun is. It’s a matter respecting the identity and autonomy of an individual.


Pronouns are the minimum amount you can do to be more inclusive in your everyday life.

Because referring to someone by their name is the lowest bar of respectful social interaction.


In the work I have done as an LGBTQ educator I have been met with slurs, yelling, and dehumanizing remarks when I bring up the concept of gender neutral pronouns and asking to take more care when addressing those we interact with. I have been told that how I want to be addressed is not worth their time, that to them, respecting my identity and autonomy is asking too much. Which in turn, diminishes the worth and validation that I hold of the identity that I use. There is a reason that blatant refusal to use someone’s correct pronouns is considered harassment.

So, how do we start making an impact on normalizing pronoun use among the general population? Well, it starts with simply asking. Ask everyone that you meet what their pronouns are, and make sure you use them in your every day. Don’t make assumptions on what pronouns someone might use, and don’t question someone’s decision to use the pronouns that they do. When you introduce yourself, make sure to identify your own pronouns. Make it more normal to ask and tell other about your pronouns.

There is tons more that you can do everyday to make your life more inclusive and work toward better advocacy in marginalized groups. Pronouns are the minimum. If you already pay attention to pronouns, that’s wonderful. If you don’t, it’s time to take the first step into living an inclusive life. We have a long way to go, but in order to go anywhere we must do the minimum.


TL Jordan is a second year immunology graduate student working in the Ramirez-Alvarado lab. Their pronouns are they/them. They passionate about science communication, science advocacy, and LGBTQ equality. In addition to their graduate studies they are the Social Media representative of the Graduate Student Association, the Chair of the LGBTI MERG Student Group, and the assistant goalkeeper coach at RCTC. They believe firmly that science should be accessible to everyone.

Apr 17, 2016 · Moving Towards Equity in Medicine

By: Domenic Fraboni and Crystal Mendoza

April 13th was Equal Pay Day. At a panel discussion, Women in Science and Medicine: Moving Toward Equity in Career and Professional Development sponsored by the Office for Diversity, we learned that Equal Pay Day represents the day that women needed to work until in 2016 (added to their 2015 salary) to earn what their male counterparts earned during the 2015 calendar year. This discussion, led by a panel of Mayo physician and scientists, was tackling this exact issue and its prominence in the medial and science fields.

Guest moderator, Sharonne Hayes, M.D., began the discussion by outlining concerning statistics that represent the current inequality in medical career advancement between sexes.  To begin, Dr. Hayes pointed out that no women were nominated in 2014 or 2015 for the Mayo Clinic Distinguished Investigator award.  Furthermore, the winners of the award since the 1980’s have been comprised of 96% men.  The familial status of those employees also varies greatly between men and women.  Of those employees seeking to further their career in medicine, 25% of women were single without children whereas only 9% of men shared that same status.  A much higher percentage of men were currently married with children, perhaps suggesting that men are easier able to “have it all.”  Dr. Hayes said that gone are the times when a man can work 60-70 hours a week in their medical profession while his wife stays home as the primary care-giver to their children.  At Mayo Clinic, what can we do to work toward equal opportunity in health profession careers?

The panel consisted of both physicians and scientists:

  • Karen Hedin, Ph.D.- Professor in Immunology
  • Kay Pepin, Ph.D. – Radiation Oncology
  • Jim Maher, Ph.D. – Dean of Mayo Graduate School/ Professor of Biochemistry
  • Sumedha Penheiter, Ph.D.  – Office of Health Disparities
  • Jay-Sheree Allen, M.D. – Family Medicine

Many seek the answer in the “career pipeline.”  This pipeline is supposed to help streamline motivated women into successful careers in medicine.  The pipeline method helps provide opportunities to deserving women to enter programs such as medical education, research, and leadership development.  Maybe most importantly, the pipeline is meant to help find good female mentors for young women looking to advance their career.  Shortly after outlining the pipeline, Dr. Hayes pointed out issues with relying on this strategy.  Women still are the ones that carry and give birth to our children.  Many women drop off the path to career success due to family prioritization and thus contribute to a leaky pipeline.

A common theme the panelists agreed on as an issue women face in career advancement is the simple culture that our society has developed around advanced careers in medicine and medical education.  Men have historically dominated the field.  Because of this, young women have difficulty finding established, female role models in their field of interest.  Many women also feel a lack of expectations and respect from their peers, potentially due to the male-dominated stigma that exists.  The panel then began to discuss what we could do to reduce this unfortunate societal stigma and repair some of the leaks in the career pipeline for women.

So, how can women “have it all”? Jim Maher, Ph.D., Dean of Mayo Graduate School, offered advice he gives many female graduate students: “You have to find a partnership to facilitate your career”. As far as women succeeding in the biomedical field, it all comes down to networking: actively seeking out a network of mentors, in particular strong, female mentors. Young female scientists in particular are faced with a lack of women in the research. For these women, incorporating mentors on committees that are more progressive is a necessity when it comes to success of women in the sciences and health care.

Diversity Discussion Panel (from left to right: Karen Hedin, Kay Pepin, Jim Maher, Sumedha Penheiter, Jay-Sheree Allen, and moderator Sharonne Hayes). Photo credit: Crystal Mendoza

Diversity Discussion Panel (from left to right: Karen Hedin, Kay Pepin, Jim Maher, Sumedha Penheiter, Jay-Sheree Allen, and moderator Sharonne Hayes). Photo credit: Crystal Mendoza

How are issues in gender disparities solved? First off, we have to solve the problem of many people not understanding or accepting that inequality exists in the first place. The panel offered a simple solution to this: education that there are gender disparities would be a starting point. Furthermore, women mentoring women to take control of their careers and help them help themselves succeed. It was mentioned by a member in the audience (actually, it was Domenic Fraboni) that the best way to move forward with this issue and work towards equality is to disrupt the status quo as it stands. Many audience members agreed with this.

Education is key, first off to encourage change, but perhaps the metrics we hold for success are also outdated. Dr. Hayes cited an article published in the Academic Medicine Journal, which reported that female physicians publish fewer papers than their male counterparts throughout their careers, however that gap was no longer existent after 27 years in their careers. This is seen over and over again; women publish less and hold fewer leadership positions than men; which the paper held as a threshold for academic success. The question then becomes, what other measurements do we have for career success? Are there new metrics we have yet to take into consideration? This becomes an interesting question and one that we do not have an answer for.

We left the panel discussions with more questions than answers. The discussion was fantastic and the panel had wonderful advice to give both men and women about gender disparities and how to move forward. Our goal now is to educate others and effect change.

If you wish to continue this discussion, please comment below!

Useful resources:

When Scientists Choose Motherhood- American Scientist

Women in Science and Engineering Research (Intranet site)

Jan 27, 2016 · Medical "Marriage" - Improving the Clinician-Patient Relationship

By: Thomas Mork

“What do you know about him?” inquired my clinical instructor. I was on my first rotation as a student at the University of Utah and, using only two hands, was still able to count the number of patients I had seen. I commenced listing my patient’s home environment, his physical capabilities, etc. My clinical instructor cut me off. “That’s great, Tom, but what do you know about him?” I pondered the question for a moment.

“Well, he was a high school teacher.” I replied, questioningly. My clinical instructor smiled. “That’s it”, he said. And he made my goal for the next four weeks to learn something about the lives of my patients.

By the end of my clinical experience, I had formed a bond with my patients and their families that could be described as more than just a therapeutic alliance. Patients who had arrived in wheelchairs gave me hugs as they walked out the door. Families thanked me for listening to their needs and truly caring about their significant other or son or daughter. Seeing the ways we had affected their lives actually brought tears to my eyes on a couple occasions (not something I usually admit). My understanding of providing care has shifted from treating the disease to treating the person. I gained more from patients after understanding something about their lives than I did from focusing solely on the disease. Further, I gained greater satisfaction with my time as a student. I enjoyed going to work every day. This was a novel concept for me, and it was made possible because of the relationships I had formed.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

In his book, How to win friends and influence people, Dale Carnegie said it right. As soon as I took my clinical instructor’s advice of learning about my patient’s, I instantly started receiving more positive feedback and had patients that were willing to work in therapy twice a day. Today, as I am in my third clinical experience, I still continue to work on learning about the lives of my patients to show that I care. I have found that taking the extra few minutes to ask about their family or hobbies can make the difference between whether they will work with me or decline therapy.

I had the amazing opportunity of taking a motivational interviewing class in December of 2015. The instructor was excellent at keeping us involved in the lecture by having us practice motivational interviewing. At the beginning of his talk, he tried to instill a spirit of “active listening” in us. Through practice and demonstration, the participants in this class reported that having a conversation with a person who asked probing questions augmented with personal stories was more enjoyable than talking to someone who did not say anything. While this is common sense, the process of taking a medical history mostly consists of a list of questions formulated to obtain the information we need to make decisions. If we do not augment these questions with a genuine interest in people’s lives, our patients will most likely find the conversation less pleasant and may be less likely to want to participate in therapy or healthcare. Thus, by becoming genuinely interested in people’s lives, we can encourage participation, make friends, and increase our own personal job satisfaction.

I was taught this as a student. There are multiple classes that tell you how creating a “therapeutic alliance” is beneficial to encourage participation in your patients, to improve outcomes, and to prevent lawsuits. I listened to my professors tell us this while thinking, “I am already good at talking to people.” Then, I returned my focus to things like the renin-angiotensin system to prepare for my next test. However, during the first few weeks of my clinical, I realized just how difficult it was to make my examination feel less like a list of questions and more like meeting a new friend. Creating a personal connection with someone you just met is a skill that requires practice and guidance. Developing this ability is something I have practiced continually since my clinical instructor’s advice. Now, if my patient had an accident while skiing, I ask them what hills they like. If a patient has shoulder pain while biking, I ask what trails they ride. I have vastly improved on my ability to make these personal connections. However, I wish I had learned more about it in school.

The ability to form a therapeutic alliance is an abstract science; it is a skill we cannot easily quantify with metrics or tests. Yet, I believe it is one of the most important skills that we can possess in the healthcare profession. The ability to create a bond with patients is something that comes naturally for some, but not all. The same goes for physics or anatomy. The problem is, while we have a multitude of classes for the latter, very little formal time is spent on the former; one could argue that creating a personal connection is just as, or more, important in healthcare and in life.

Thomas Mork - Photo Credit to Ryan Ledebuhr

Thomas Mork – Photo Credit to Ryan Ledebuhr

Our duty as a profession is to care for the person behind the patient. We can do this by becoming genuinely interested in the lives of our patients and tailoring our care to their needs. It takes the additional probing question and/or personal story to show that we care. Creating a therapeutic alliance is a skill that takes time to develop. It is something we can all return to when we find our history taking is looking more like a list of questions than a conversation. Hopefully, by forging these therapeutic alliances, the people we are helping will be friends rather than patients.

Thomas Mork was born and raised in North Branch, MN. He graduated from St. Olaf College with a BA in Biology and is currently in the third and final year of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program in the Mayo School of Health Sciences. He also currently serves as the Physical Therapy Student Assembly Vice-President

Dec 17, 2015 · WiSER Presents: Women in Science and Engineering Series- Elke Mühlberger

By: Robin Willenbring

Being human is hard sometimes.

Now, to add to that, many of us reading this particular blog post, are human scientists or in the medical field. There have been too many times to count that each of us has questioned our life’s choice, our sanity and thought about being anything else. What keeps us going? That is the age old question, isn’t it? For each the answer is different. However, there is one defining feature, our passion. Whether it’s a passion for developing technologies, teaching the next generation, caring for the sick, running a company, thinking critically, or viruses; each is a passion. Throughout our careers, we find ways to share this passion, through our publications, scientific talks, poster session, and visiting with others.

In addition to discussing our passions with others, we tend to share the joys and struggles with our jobs. Some of these are unique, some common, regardless we share, and this is a good thing.

Currently, at Mayo Clinic the Women in Science and Engineering Research (WiSER) group along with the Center for Biomedical Discovery (CBD) is inviting successful scientists to share their passion through a scientific lecture and an informal coffee chat. This week WiSER and CBD is hosting Dr. Elke Mühlberger from Boston University. To give some insight into the awesomeness that is Elke, here are some fun facts:

  • She began her science career in Marburg, Germany
  • She left Germany to come to Boston University. Her story will be elaborated upon in further detail at her coffee chat.
  • She works with deadly viruses- that’s right, deadly!
  • This means she runs and works at the new National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratories (NEIDL) in Boston, which contains a high-containment Biosafety Level 4 (BSL4) laboratory.
  • Overall, she is truly an amazing mentor for all and a phenomenal person in general as told by students in her laboratory.

Have I convinced you yet that she is a must meet?

So- if you want to hear a story about the struggles of being a human scientist, dealing with the obstacles of being a female in science, and all the passion that keeps you moving forward, come meet Dr. Elke Mühlberger on Friday, December 18, 2015 10:00am CST (information below). If that alone does not tempt you, coffee and bagels will also be provided.

Additionally, she is giving a scientific lecture later that afternoon titled “Loud and quiet: How human macrophages respond to ebolavirus infection” (information below)

Even if viruses aren’t your top interest or on your radar at all, come enjoy hearing about a successful scientist’s passion.


December 18, 2015 10:00am- 11:00am CST

Meet the Speaker: Dr. Elke Mühlberger 


MCR: GU 5-98         MCF: Birdsall 111         MCA: Griffin 265

*This event will be video conferenced

Refreshments will be served at all sites


December 18, 2015 1:30pm-2:30pm CST

Dr. Elke Mühlberger

Loud and Quiet: How human macrophages respond to ebolavirus infection



MCR: Mann Hall, Med Sci        MCF: Geffen 265              MCA: MCCRB 3-011

*This event will be video conferenced

Dec 3, 2015 · It's on Us

By Domenic Fraboni

The “It’s on US” campaign is a White House based movement that aims to increase awareness of sexual assault and sexual assault prevention.  I learned about the “It’s on US” campaign in January of last year when the NCAA became an official partner of the campaign.  As a member of the Division III Student Athlete Advisory Committee (DIII SAAC) I was tasked with bringing the campaign back to my respective conferences and campuses.  The “It’s on US” mission immediately resonated with me.  As a college football student-athlete I often felt subject to some unfair stereotypes of male student-athletes, specifically football athletes, and how they treated women.  Then I faced the real facts.  During their collegiate experience, one in every five women and one in sixteen men are subject to sexual assault.  My immediate thought became, “not on my campus.”   I was not going to let this many people be sexually assaulted at my school.   When I returned to Concordia College (Moorhead, MN) last spring semester, the college dean formed a student-working group and started doing what we could to create an environment on campus in which sexual assault was unacceptable.

Concordia College students displaying signatures of over 900 students pledging their commitment to the "It's on US" campaign.

Concordia College students displaying signatures of over 900 students pledging their commitment to the “It’s on US” campaign.

Rape.  Sexual Assault.  Domestic Violence.  How long it has been that these topics have been loomed over by a large taboo-esque shadow.  However, now is the time.  Now is the time that we can all band together to thwart sexual assault.  Many organizations, colleges and universities have partnered with this campaign to take a stand.  Now my plea is to all of YOU.  The statement “It’s on US” really does mean ALL of us.  The more people that stand behind this campaign, the stronger its presence will be felt throughout the country.  Take the initiative.  Take the pledge.  Educate yourself, and learn how to intervene effectively during situations in which sexual assault may occur.

I know that each of us may not be able to or want to run our own individual “It’s On Us” campaigns.  However, a large group of us together can have far reaching effects.  I encourage all of you who have taken the time to read this post to commit to the national “It’s on US” pledge.  It’s something that will take two minutes of your day, but may positively impact someone for a lifetime.  Many of the campaign sponsors have created videos to support the campaign.   Check out the video we made at Concordia College as an example.  These videos are meant to be a unifying organizational statement for the cause, as well as a call for others to join in.  The final step in this campaign is self-education.  Educate yourself on how to be an effective bystander.  Knowing effective ways to intervene in situations in which sexual assault may occur, is an easy way to diffuse potentially harmful scenarios.  Finally, understanding how to effectively and sensitively respond to surviving victims can allow us to help provide the appropriate emotional, legal, physical, or psychological support they need.  There are great educational tools on the “It’s on US” homepage.

Thank you for taking the time to read a post about this important topic.  I encourage everyone to seek further information on sexual assault prevention to help carry out the “It’s on US” mission.  In writing this, my greatest hope is that we can help protect men and women from a life-altering instance of sexual assault.  It’s on us.  It’s on Mayo Clinic.  Don’t be a bystander to the problem, be a part of the solution to stop sexual assault.

Domenic Fraboni was born in St. Paul and grew up in small town Princeton, MN.  He attended Concordia College, in Moorhead, MN, for his undergraduate education and is now a first year physical therapy student at the Mayo School of Health Sciences. 


I would like to thank all those individuals at Concordia College and in the NCAA that have helped me in working on this campaign.  I specifically would like to thank Dean Sue Oatey for pulling together the Concordia College student working group that made great progress on our campus for sexual assault prevention and education.  Furthermore, I want to thank the Division III SAAC NCAA liaisons, Jay Jones, Jean Orr, Brynna Barnhart, and Laura Peterson , for allowing me to speak on the NCAA Convention floor this coming January about our nationwide commitment to the “It’s on US” campaign.

Contact Us · Privacy Policy