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Meanwhile, back on campus

Here’s the thing about telling the story of a lively, positive, thriving university: for every great example, there are hundreds more great stories about students and faculty who are doing amazing research to help solve problems around the world, students who volunteer, students who compete in their areas of expertise and more.

3 Minutes Thesis winnersManpreet Bains

Graduate students compete in Three Minute Thesis challenge

Three Minute Thesis is a competition in which graduate students are challenged to describe their research projects in a way that a general audience can appreciate in three minutes or less. Thirty four students put their business suits on and literally wowed every person in packed competition rooms. The subjects were fascinating, the research impressive, the students articulate. Research on North Dakota ground water, and Kentucky bluegrass in the Dakotas, treatments of pancreatic cancer, vascular disease in people with diabetes, integration of African refugee women into the Fargo-Moorhead community, hearing loss in rural farmers, and more, more and more.

The judges could understandably have declared a 34-part tie, but they did manage to declare Manpreet Bains, who described his work in studying the link between the brain and the body’s microbiome, the overall winner.

Bains graduated from high school in Rochester, Minnesota, and came to NDSU for his undergraduate degree because he thought the tuition price was right. He found the faculty helpful and had great opportunities to experience research as an undergraduate, and so enrolled next in a doctoral program. His dissertation examines the link between the brain and the microbiome, and how that might affect obesity.

... and so much more:

Engineering team excels at NASA Rover Challenge

photo of the team and their vehicle A team of engineering students topped competition from around the world in NASA’s Rover Challenge, where they maneuvered a vehicle they designed through an obstacle course simulating terrain of other planets or moons. The team took third place in the University Division and won the division’s Most Improved and Technology Challenge awards. The team (pictured at right, with faculty adviser Ghodrat Karami) included Austin Karst, Alexis Barton, Rupert Cooper and Christopher Benson.

photo of Ben Gillis and Aaron CoddenBen Gillis and Aaron Codden

Students present at global initiative event

Another batch of students were selected to present their ideas to a national audience at the Clinton Global Initiative in Berkeley, California. Architecture students Ben Gillis and Aaron Codden, for example, are developing a design proposal to create small-scale shelters in underused areas of downtown Fargo. The shelters would serve as temporary refuge for the homeless and residents in need.

Master of Public Health student Lindsey Montileaux Mabbutt is developing a website to help prospective students find and apply for scholarships aimed at American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Nursing students honored with awards

Leah Hermanson photoLeah Hermanson, a junior in nursing, has been named the North Dakota Student Nurse of the Year for 2015-16. “I was surprised to have been chosen, especially amongst the other worthy candidates,” said Hermanson. “I am truly honored and humbled to have received this award.” After graduation, Hermanson, who is from West Fargo, plans to work at a hospital in the Fargo area.

Tamsen Star O’Berry photoTamsen Star O’Berry won the “Legendary Nurse: Rising Star” award from the North Dakota Center for Nursing for her contributions to the profession, including development of a nursing model from the cultural perspective. Her passion is serving diverse populations, including veterans with PTSD and Native American adolescents. She works as a nurse and is pursuing her doctor of nursing practice degree at NDSU Nursing at Sanford Health in Bismarck.

Grad student combines pharmacy and public health

Robert Willborn photoRobert Willborn is the first student to graduate from NDSU with both a doctor of pharmacy degree and a master’s degree in public health.

In the five years needed to pursue his doctor of pharmacy degree and his master’s degree in public health, he also took advantage of opportunities such as a graduate assistantship in pharmacy practice, presentations at regional and national public health and pharmacy conferences, NDSU’s Three Minute Thesis competition, and publication of research in which he participated.

Willborn recently had a commentary titled “Pharmacy’s Influence and Opportunities in Public Health” accepted for the student contributions section of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. His research regarding diabetes and depression also was published.

“The MPH program has supplemented my pharmacy education in many ways, and will ultimately improve the care I deliver to patients in the future,” he said. As part of his professional training, Willborn completed pharmacy rotations in West Fargo, Valley City, and Fargo, North Dakota, as well as in Sauk Center and Robbinsdale, Minnesota, Silver Springs, Maryland, and Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

Willborn also has his sights set on future professional opportunities. “I am setting myself up to pursue a career as a clinical pharmacist providing patient care services within a larger health care system or teaching hospital,” said Willborn. “However, I would like to find a vocation in which I can utilize both my education in pharmacy and public health, which could include options such as the U.S. Public Health Service.”

He is from Cambridge, Wisconsin, and completed his undergraduate degree in pharmaceutical sciences at NDSU.

National Science Foundation grants prestigious fellowships to NDSU students

Four NDSU students have been awarded fellowships from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Through a competitive process, the program selects top students throughout the country who are pursuing research-based graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields. The students who received these prestigious fellowships are Loren Anderson, undergraduate in mathematics; Jessica Bair, alumna in psychology; Liz Cambron, graduate student in cellular and molecular biology; and Cody Ritt, undergraduate in civil and environmental engineering.

Students clone tumors for personalized cancer treatments

Prajakta Kulkarni and Matthew Confeld, who are pharmaceutical sciences students, are working on a method to clone tumors, so treatment can be tested outside of a cancer patient’s body. This will help find the optimal treatment and reduce side effects. Kulkarni and Confeld won first place in the service category of NDSU’s annual student innovation competition.

Engineering students launch amazing businesses

Andrew Dalman photoAndrew Dalman is racking up recognition. He’s been named to Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30 list, which recognizes the country’s best and brightest young people, and has opened many doors. Dalman was recognized for developing a patented composition for the production of 3D-printed artificial bones and for helping develop a prosthetic arm for children. He is a graduate student in mechanical engineering, and has already moved on to be CEO of a company called Advanced Bone Technology, which is focused on SimBone, a product designed to look, feel and react like human bone so users can do testing, training and development on something other than a human cadaver or animals.

Now he’s been invited to Vienna for an event called the Pioneers Festival, for the top early-stage start ups around the world. “It’s been a cool adventure. Going from being someone with no ambition to travel when I got into this, now I’ve gone to Boston, Tel Aviv, Boston again, Vienna and I’ll be going to Palo Alto. It went from zero to ‘Holy cats, everything happened at once.’”

Cooper Bierscheid photoCooper Bierscheid was part of the group with Dalman, and has now founded a company called Protosthetics, working to commercialize the 3D prosthetic. Dalman and Bierscheid were both part of a student research team that develops new types of dental and bone implants.

Bierscheid won first place in the product category at NDSU’s annual Innovation Challenge, and he has big plans to have an impact in the world. “We want to reduce the acceptable price tag for medical devices so that they are accessible for anyone who needs them, especially in underdeveloped countries,” he says. “Our team is continuing to develop new products. We are working with major prosthetic clinics across the United States to get the devices to people who need them. Our ability to create interchangeable replacement parts allow amputees to feel comfortable wearing their device, instead of being ashamed of it, and allows them to efficiently perform their daily activities.”

Faculty achievement should also be on this list.

Here are just three examples. We’d need another 100-page book to tell you all of the great stories.

Pancreatic cancer research

NDSU researchers Sanku Mallik and D.K. Srivastava are receiving an NIH grant of up to $9.62 million to establish a research center aimed at early diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer. The center will support the research of three junior investigators and will help recruit other researchers interested in complementary areas of pancreatic cancer research.

Veterans’ experiences

Christina Weber photoNDSU’s Christina Weber received a $201,104 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to help the community and state better understand what happens when soldiers return from war. The yearlong project will include creation of an oral history archive, writing and ceramics workshops for veterans and a series of public programs.

Nilanjan Ray Chaudhuri photo Wind energy study

Nilanjan Ray Chaudhuri has received a $502,810 National Science Foundation award to study a system to more reliably and efficiently integrate wind energy into the grid. “North Dakota is uniquely positioned to lead the wind energy integration efforts in the nation. The proposed research is very timely and has the potential to act as a game changer in solving different energy challenges not only in the U.S., but the rest of the world.”

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.