NSU Honors Program students conducting research projects

Female students working in science lab; one looking into microscope

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Northern State University Honors Program students have been working on their undergraduate research projects this summer in the Jewett Regional Science Education Center.

Olivia Rud, a senior from Madison, is researching materials that have the potential to prevent biofilm growth, in particular staph and MRSA, on medical equipment. She got the idea after taking an EMT course last spring taught by Aberdeen Fire and Rescue.

Laurie Rogers, a junior pre-dental major from Aberdeen, is looking at oral bacteria and comparing fluoride with various other treatments. Both students initially had slightly different research ideas with more human involvement, but the pandemic caused them to shift gears.

Research in general shifted at Northern during the pandemic – but it never stopped, thanks to the state-of-the-art Jewett Regional Science Education Center.

“The facility helps us,” said NSU Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Jon Mitchell. “I don’t think we missed a beat because we have the space to spread out.”

Rud is a biology major who plans to become a physician’s assistant, noting that the profession recently changed to physician’s associate. She’s had the profession picked out since seventh grade.

“It stuck with me ever since,” Rud said, adding that her mom, Jeanne Rud, is also a PA. “So that had a little bit to do with it, growing up seeing what she did.”

Having the opportunity to conduct research at the undergraduate level is amazing, Rud said.

“The opportunity here and the facility is completely outstanding,” said Rud, a member of the Wolves Volleyball Team. “And the faculty are so helpful.”

She never thought about research before college, but now doing honors thesis work will “push me outside my comfort zone.”

Rogers, too, never really expected to do independent research, but enjoys it, and she said it will give her an edge with professional school – and with future classes.

“I haven’t taken microbiology yet, but a lot of stuff I’m doing will apply there because I’ve gotten some personal teaching from Dr. (Alyssa) Kiesow, Dr. Mitchell and Dr. (Andrew) Russell,” she said.

Rogers, a member of the Wolves Basketball Team, said she likes doing research over the summer when she can come in on her own time when it works for her schedule.

Being a student at Northern, and especially part of the Honors Program, has helped Rogers feel more prepared for dental school because she’s had great advisors and classes, plus the opportunity to conduct research.

“Laurie and Olivia are both exceptional students who have utilized the opportunities available to them at Northern. They are both highly motivated and have a goal in mind,” said NSU Honors Program Director Dr. Kristi Bockorny. “The Honors Program allows students to research topics that are most pertinent to them. We are very fortunate that the faculty at Northern, like Dr. Mitchell, are willing to work with the Honors students to realize their full potential with research.”

Getting students that research experience is something Northern excels at, Mitchell said. Rogers said that’s not true for friends at bigger schools, where only one student might get chosen to work in the lab.

But at Northern, all students have the opportunity for hands-on experience.

“There’s no application to work with us,” Mitchell said. “You just have to raise your hand and ask. We’ll work with you to figure out a project that you’re interested in.”

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a student-centered institution that provides an outstanding educational experience, preparing students through the liberal arts and professional education for their future endeavors. A regional university, Northern offers rigorous academics; diverse civic, social and cultural opportunities; and a commitment to building an inclusive environment for all points of view. Northern also offers a broad-based athletics program, sponsoring 15 NCAA Division II intercollegiate varsity sports that compete in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NSIC). The university strives to enrich the community through partnerships such as its Educational Impact Campaign, which opened a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; new athletic and recreation fields; and, soon, an on-campus regional sports complex. With the $55 million campaign, NSU has been the recipient of more than $150 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.