Recent Entries by Julie  

Society for Neuroscience Conference

One of the best parts of UMR is the ease of becoming involved in a vast range of opportunities. I was lucky enough to be asked to join a research group my sophomore year at UMR exploring the group learning capabilities within zebrafish with Dr. Dunbar and Dr. Petzold. Over the last three years, I have learned more than I could've hoped, from zebrafish maintenance, to research methodology, to statistics and poster creation and presentation. As a culmination of my research time at UMR, Dr. Dunbar decided to allow Courtnee Heyduk and myself to travel to San Diego to present our research at the annual Society for Neuroscience (SfN) conference this month.

Prior to the conference, we worked hard to complete our posters and finalize the data. I was preparing to present the results of the long-term memory testing of the trained groups of zebrafish. After a few drawbacks with data collection, we finally gathered enough data to present and none too soon. The posters were off to print somewhere in Asia and miraculously arrived only two days after we had placed the order. After packing some clothes for warmer weather and we were off!

We decided to enjoy San Diego for a few days before jumping into the conference and were able to see almost the entire San Diego Zoo. I understand why people say it is one of the best zoos in the world, it was incredible! Plus it was warm! Walking around the whole day in the sun without a jacket on was fabulous.


Come Monday it was off to the conference! We had heard it would be a large gathering of people, upwards of 40,000 people, however, it is hard to grasp what that exactly meant. In a convention center that spanned 4-5 city blocks, it took a bit to walk from one end to the other and take everything in. We began with a talk on journal publishing that gave us great insight into what would be necessary to complete the paper that we are currently working on. After, we dove into the poster session where literally hundreds if not thousands of posters were begin presented simultaneously. We stopped at the ones that we could understand at least part of the title. That night we got to present our posters for the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) social. It was fun to meet other undergrads and hear what their research focused on.


After a few more days of perusing the posters and parsing through talks that sparked curiosity in their methods and findings, we finally reached Wednesday when I was able to present at the full meeting. Because it was the last day of the conference, it wasn't quite as busy as the other days, but there were still plenty of people that were interested in what we were doing. Many of them were also conducting research on zebrafish so it was interesting to learn what their methodologies and talk about the capabilities of zebrafish. It was a great experience and the four hour poster session went quickly. We packed up our poster, headed back to our hotel and prepared for our return to the cold Minnesota.


Many of the individuals that I talked with at SfN were surprised that we were undergraduates completing this research and there to present. It is a rare experience for individuals at our age, but it is one of the benefits of attending UMR. We had a great time, learned a lot and are better prepared for our futures in the scientific field!

Official UMR Squatter

One of the great aspects of UMR is the close knit relationships that you have with everyone. One of the sometimes frustrating aspects of UMR is the close knit relationships that you have with everyone. Because of this, when it comes time to study or do individual work, the common areas aren't always the best areas for productivity. It is very easy to have a passerby, whether that be a students, staff or faculty, stop to chat and realize that an hour has passed with out getting any actual work done.

In order to be proactive, I have spent my time a UMR moving from place to place in the hopes of finding the best place to study. At the beginning of this semester, I settled into a lovely vacant cubical within the Curriculum-based Faculty office area at Broadway Hall. It was the best decision and profs joked about how I had made the cubical my own. I was able to be the most productive I had ever been while on campus....only to have them taken down a month into the semester! What was I to do?!

Once the cubicals had been disassembled, construction began on two new faculty offices, more proof that UMR is growing! After about a month of terrible productivity, partly because I didn't know where to study and partly because the senior slide has set in, I now have a new spot to squat for the rest of the semester. Not only is it better than a cubical, it's a whole office! After a quick scare when one of the profs came into turn the light off, only to find me studying, the profs get a good chuckle out of it but encourage me to take advantage of the space.

Summer is over...Already!?

I don't know about you, but I can't believe that summer is already over! It's been a busy summer for me, which is probably why it flew by. I was lucky enough to receive an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Grant (UROP) from the U to continue research with Dr. Robb Dunbar and Dr. Andrew Petzold on group learning using zebrafish as model organisms. After a few bumps in the road figuring out the logistics of UROP at UMR (since Courtnee and I were the first true UMR students to receive UROP) we have begun collecting some great data. For my UROP project, I decided to look into how long a group of operant trained zebrafish remember the learned behavior. Aka: if we feed fish in a certain, partitioned area of the tank and show a red light at the same time, the fish should learn to pair the red light with swimming into that area of the chamber in the hopes there will be food. It's not too different than UMR students learning how to hover after a campus event in the hopes that there might be a spare leftover!

Along with my UROP opportunity from the U, I also continued to work as a nursing assistant at Samaritan Bethany nursing (a popular job among UMR students), and as a nanny for College Nannies and Tutors (another popular UMR job). Oh and not to mention applying to med school...I quickly found out that the application process is a full-time job in itself. Luckily for me I had great support from staff, faculty and the student body rooting for me to help me get through! I've already had my first interview at Lake Erie College of Medicine in Erie, PA and I have another scheduled for Midwestern University at the end of October. It's been a fast summer and I can already tell it will be an even quicker semester with, hopefully, exciting adventures to determine what my future holds. I can't believe that Senior year is already underway but I am ready to find out where I will go from UMR...stay tuned to find out =]


During my time in Rochester, I have spent numerous hours at the Good Samaritan Health Clinic in downtown. The Good Samaritan is a free clinic put on by the Salvation Army, offering medical and dental services to those with little to no insurance in Olmsted County. I have volunteered here since I was a Freshman and have found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences I have had here in Rochester. I originally started at the Good Sam as part of my work-study job when UMR began to formulate relationships to sustain student work-study needs. I began doing data entry and would come in at my convenience to enter patient medical records into their digital system. Over the years, I have also worked as a receptionist for the dental clinic and am currently a receptionist for the medical clinic and train new volunteers. The Good Sam is no longer my job and I have been solely a volunteer for the last 2 years but I LOVE it! I have met so many great people that have allowed me shadowing opportunities, experiences working with extremely varied populations and research opportunities with Mayo Medical students. I have created great relationships with the employees and other volunteers there and I will be sad to leave when I move out of Rochester this coming December.

If that list of benefits wasn't enough to convince you to get involved and volunteer, I was also able to attend the Good Samaritan Taste of the Town fundraising event this last Sunday. By being a UMR student, there are many opportunities to attend events within the Rochester community as a representative of UMR. Because the school is growing at such a fast rate, they have started to make this a formal position and students are currently being interviewed for "Chancellor Representative" positions. Fortunately for me, this group of students has not been chosen yet and last Sunday I was asked to attend "Taste of the Town." Many people on campus know about my experiences at the Good Sam so when the Chancellor decided to sponsor a table for UMR at this event, they asked me right away to attend.

Taste of the Town is a night full of delicious food and good conversation. It is held at the International Events Center. All four walls of the huge room are lined with tables from every well known restaurant and catering company in town, all with their best samples of food. It ends up being a free for all, going from table to table, trying to contain yourself with all of the options to try. It didn't take long for everyone from UMR to realize we needed to pace ourselves. It would have been impossible to try everything there, but nothing that I had was at all disappointing either. We had a great time and left slowly because we were all stuffed. It meant a lot to me that I was able to attend this event for the Good Sam but as a representative of UMR, bringing together two aspects of Rochester that I truly value.

Check out the Good Samaritan Health Clinic website to see all they do in Rochester!


One of my favorite events every year is Support the U Day at the Capitol! This was the third year I have attended and am happy to say that UMR was able to bring a whole 6 students this year! Not much compared to the hundreds from the other campuses but we like to think we have the advantage when it comes to student body percentage.

Support the U Day is an annual event put on by the Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition, a group of students from each campus that focus on advocating for the U. Each year, approximately 450 students from all five U of M campuses gather in the Rotunda of the Capitol to hear speeches from students, U of M staff and Minnesota legislators. Then, after a classic college kid pizza lunch, we are all off to various offices throughout the Government Complex to talk one on one with our legislators, sharing our stories about why the U of M is important to us and why we need their support to keep the an U affordable, competitive secondary education option. It's more than just recruiting students to come here but it's recruiting the future of Minnesota's workforce.


Seeing as all UMR students are close to a Poli-Sci major, it is an eye opening experience every time I attend. Although I'm President of the Rochester Student Association, I am nowhere close to knowing all of the ins and outs of politics and the legislative process. But even more so, it is fulfilling knowing that we're paving the way and ensuring that UMR continues to have support from the state to guarantee our sustaining growth. It is also great to mix and mingle with students from across the state, to share stories and hear their experiences with the U of M.

While we were there for the day, we were lucky enough to chat with Representative Kim Norton and Senator David Senjem. They were excited to see that UMR students are real and that we are off and running as a full standing campus. Although we dropped a few hints about keeping tuition low, the main point of our conversations was to let them know what we are doing here in Rochester and to show them that UMR is an investment worth making. I am sorry that I will be unable to attend next year as I will be abroad but I truly hope that the tradition continues and that the UMR representation continues to grow every year.


Don't Text and Walk...A PSA

Let me start off by apologizing for large gap in my blogs this month, it's been a busy one!

Anyhow, one of the best parts of going to school in downtown Rochester is the abundant skyway and subway systems. It is great to walk inside, above and below the streets when it is cold, raining or rush hour. You can get to just about anywhere without stepping outside. For those living in 318 however, this gets dangerous in the winter. It's not rare to hear that someone hasn't been outside for a couple days, or even a week. Luckily for me, I live in a house just across the Zumbro River from campus so I get my daily dose of fresh air. I usually even skip the skyway when I'm walking home so I can enjoy the city and the nice weather. However, yesterday I made the mistake of taking the skyway as far as I can on my way home...

I was walking with my friend Courtnee and we decided to walk in the skyways until we had to split in the Civic Center to go our separate ways home. I had to get home because I was scheduled to nanny that afternoon. I went right, she went left. I decided to check my phone because I knew that I had gotten a text while I was walking with her. I started walking down the curved staircase and typed a text to my friend. I was about to hit the landing halfway down the staircase and I thought to myself, as I looked at my phone, "Is this the landing? ....yeah it is." ...It wasn't. I completely missed the last step, turned my ankle and wiped out on the landing of the stairs. I sat there for a second and thought, first, how dumb I felt for just doing what I did, and second, how much my foot hurt. There were two women walking behind me that rushed up, helped me down the rest of the stairs and made sure I was ok. Then it was Courtnee to the rescue!

I called Courtnee, who was almost home at that point, and she was able to pick me up and take me to urgent care. I also had to call my boss who was lucky enough to find a replacement nanny half an hour before I was supposed to be there. After a few hours and x-rays in urgent care at Olmsted Medical Center, I was on crutches with a bad sprain and a possible popped ligament. Courtnee picked me up and took me back to school for a research meeting. Coming to school today, most people had already heard what I had done and asked me if I was ok upon seeing me. Those who hadn't heard yet (students, staff and faculty included) asked right away to make sure I was ok. We all shared a few good laughs on how texting and walking is a bad idea. The support and care that I have received from everyone on campus is amazing. I can genuinely say that at no other university would I feel so cared for and welcomed. It is times like this that I am so grateful for everything that UMR has to offer.

When looking for colleges, I always thought that I wanted to go to a big school and yet when I came to UMR for the first time, I knew that it was the right school for me. I look back now on my experiences here and compare them to those of my friends at large universities and it's no comparison. I love the family that I have at UMR and can't wait to see how it evolves as the school develops. So as I leave you today, remember: Rochester's skyway system is great, it's ok if where you end up isn't what you originally planned for yourself and don't text and walk...

Saturday Mornings in Rochester

Farmer's Market.png

One of my favorite things to do on a fall weekend in Rochester is to head over to the Rochester Farmer's Market. I usually plan this into my weekend schedule, whether I need food or not, just because it is such a pleasant way take a break from the hustle and bustle of school. Plus, I usually have to make a special trip to the ATM so I have cash on hand (most vendors accept tokens that can be purchased with credit card, but I like to avoid the hassle).

The Rochester Downtown Farmer's Market is located only a few blocks east of 318 Commons on 4th Street along the Zumbro River. It runs outdoors from May until October every Saturday from 7:30am-Noon.There are approximately 75 different vendors that come with everything from carrots and spinach to pies and lefse! Not to mention the delicious Peace Coffee stand, the best stop on a crisp fall morning.

After being in classes all week looking at my laptop or with my nose in a textbook, the farmer's market is like a wakeup call to my senses. The fruits, vegetables and flowers are so vibrantly colored and it all smells so fresh, I usually walk around a few times before even thinking about what I'm going to buy. It's also nice to see how vibrant the Rochester community is and see people that don't necessarily go to UMR. However, it is rare that I go and don't see at least one UMR professor, but that's just one more thing I love about UMR. I usually end up chatting with them about what they are looking for that day. It's interactions like these that allow for students and professors at UMR to have a closer relationship than you will find at other universities, and it makes the professors much more approachable when homework and life get to be too difficult to handle.

It's amazing what can come out of a quick walk to the Farmer's Market, but the best has to be the great food that is very reasonably priced. Check out the picture above of what I purchased today. Next week, I think I'm going to get a pumpkin for my front steps! Fall has definitely arrived in Rochester, so I'm off to enjoy some of the last great weather of the season.


Welcome Week Comes to a Close

I can't believe that, not only is summer over, but the first week of classes has already flown by! I have been extremely busy in the last few weeks meeting with students and staff to plan Welcome Week activities that have already come and gone. I would be lying if I wasn't a little relieved to no longer have to plan but all that planning was worth the result.

On Thursday this week, we had the UMR Club and Community Carnival. Myself, along with Rochester Student Association (RSA) members, Student Activities Board (SAB) members and Orientation and Welcome Leaders (OWL's) met many nights over the summer in my living room in the hopes that the event would be a success! We talked with UMR club leaders, volunteer organizations and local businesses in the hopes that they would have a table at the event to advertise to students. I know for myself that during college it has helped me tremendously to stay involved in UMR clubs, volunteer and work so we hoped this event would give all UMR students the opportunity to get involved in some great organizations!

Looking back at the event, I think it was a huge success! We had over 35 tables with various groups for students to visit and learn about. We had popcorn and cotton candy for everyone to enjoy and a bubble gum blowing contest that ended in a two way tie. The RSA also had raffle prizes for students to win. Everyone had a great time and we hope that we will continue and grow this every year!