SURFing the scientific way
Jenelle L. Vickberg is part of two Mayo Clinic traditions: She is being mentored and she is SURFing. As part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, or SURF program, at Mayo Clinic, she is spending her break from South Dakota State University helping develop an algorithm in the lab of Mayo Clinic physiologist David R. Holmes III, Ph.D. The algorithm will help predict microcyst development in people with polycystic kidney disease. The mentoring will help Vickberg reach her goals — earning a bachelor's in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering.
This is Vickberg's second SURF summer at Mayo Clinic, and she remains enthusiastic.
"It's fantastic. You're viewed as an actual partner in research … doing something that's really going to help people," Vickberg says.
Her mentor was also a SURF student not that long ago. Dr. Holmes traces his own mentoring experience back to Mayo Clinic biomedical engineer Earl Wood, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Wood mentored two Mayo Clinic scientists who, in turn, mentored Dr. Holmes. His thoughts on his Mayo Clinic SURF experience echo Vickberg's.
"It has real-world application. It is not just sitting in a lab in the middle of a university — it's directly applying it to patient care," Dr. Holmes says.
SURF is part of the Mayo Graduate School and is directed by biochemist Bruce F. Horazdovsky, Ph.D., and managed by SURF Coordinator Glenda K. Mueller.
Mentoring has a long tradition in medicine. Even Dr. William Worrell Mayo was mentored by British scientist and physician John Dalton, who is best known for developing the atomic theory. Mayo Clinic's SURF program was launched in 1990 in the Department of Immunology by chair Larry R. Pease, Ph.D. "We have almost 2,000 alumni of this program," he says, "and 95 percent are raving about how positive their experience at Mayo has been."
— Volume 8, Issue 2