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STEM Professionals to Meet UW Students in ‘Speed Mentoring’ Event

February 28, 2018

More than 20 University of Wyoming undergraduates will receive firsthand guidance from 11 professionals in a variety of science disciplines Thursday, March 1.

The Wyoming Research Scholars Program’s (WRSP) first “speed mentoring” event will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the atrium of the Michael B. Enzi STEM Facility.

“We have invited STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professionals from a variety of disciplines to meet with WRSP students in a mentoring format based on ‘speed dating,’ where students meet with mentors and chat for a few minutes and then rotate to talk to someone else,” says WRSP Director Jamie Crait, who credited the UW Foundation for helping launch the idea.

Part of UW’s Science Initiative, the WRSP pairs undergraduate students with faculty mentors to participate in research for multiple years. In addition to the all-important mentorship aspect, the program includes a student salary for each student’s research time, funding for research support and supplies, and money for travel to meetings and conferences.

The program began with four students in the fall of 2015 and has grown to more than 30 undergraduates.

Additionally, undergraduates participating in other UW programs -- including McNair Scholars, the NASA Space Grant Consortium and Wyoming IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) -- will take part in the “speed mentoring” event.

Here is the list of professionals who will meet with the WRSP students Thursday:

-- Greg Brown, associate dean of the UW College of Arts and Sciences and professor of botany. He is an expert on the ecology and systematics of tropical plants in the bromeliad family and holds a Ph.D. from Arizona State University.

-- Katie Cheesbrough, a habitat biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department based in Saratoga. Along with monitoring various wildlife habitats and implementing habitat enhancement projects, she works closely with both the Baggs and Platte Valley mule deer initiatives. She previously was a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Forest Service in Douglas. She holds a master’s degree in zoology and physiology from UW.

-- Dave Freudenthal, former two-term Wyoming governor and an attorney with the firm of Crowell & Moring in Cheyenne. Before serving as governor, he was U.S. attorney for the District of Wyoming. A graduate of UW’s College of Law, he co-chaired the task force that oversaw the development of the Science Initiative.

-- Lyman McDonald, co-founder and senior biometrician with Western EcoSystems Technology Inc. (WEST). He is a biometrician/statistician with more than 40 years of experience in the application of statistical methods to design, conduct and analyze environmental, wildlife and fisheries studies. He holds a Ph.D. in statistics from Colorado State University.

-- Cheryl Eddy Miller has had a 25-year career as a staff hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Cheyenne, where she started as an undergraduate intern. She has worked on a variety of projects in Wyoming, including countywide groundwater and surface-water assessments and statewide sampling of groundwater and surface water for pesticides. She has an M.S. in agricultural and chemical engineering from Colorado State University.

-- Lorna Pehl, director of systems engineering at Metrohm Raman in Laramie. Her company produces spectrometers and was previously Snowy Range Instruments before being acquired by Metrohm. She was a faculty member at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington and holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from UW.

-- Annie Reiser, technical communications specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, Colo. She has worked at NOAA for almost 19 years and now develops products that convey NOAA science to a variety of audiences. She has an M.A. in German from the University of Colorado.

-- Shibely Saha is an analytical scientist with Millipore-Sigma, and her primary job includes analyzing secondary pharmaceutical standards. She completed her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from UW in 2016. Her Ph.D. research was focused on designing and characterizing low-cost and durable catalysts for proton exchange membrane fuel cells.

-- Christine Schultz is the field operations manager for the Observatory Operations Group in the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory’s Global Monitoring Division. She also served as a NOAA Commissioned Corps officer for over eight years. She holds a master's degree in geographic information science and technology from the University of Southern California.

-- Edmund Synakowski is the vice president for research and economic development at UW. He was associate director of science with the Department of Energy (DOE) from 2009 until 2017, when he came to UW. Before his time with DOE, Synakowski headed the Fusion Energy Program at the Lawrence National Laboratory in California and worked at Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton University. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas-Austin.

-- Kurt Tuggle is a UW graduate in civil engineering and serves as executive vice president and chief operations officer with Trihydro Corp., an environmental consulting and engineering firm based in Laramie. During his 25-year tenure at Trihydro, he has served as an environmental technician, remediation engineer, project manager and senior manager.

For more about the WRSP or the “speed mentoring” event, call Crait at (307) 766-6310 or email

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