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STEM Professionals Meet UW Students in Speed Mentoring Event

people sitting at a long table
Mentor Rhiannan Rubino, left, a physical therapist with the Spine and Injury Clinic of Laramie, meets with students Sarah Rich, from Powell, and Hunter Hasskamp, of Casper, during the UW STEM speed mentoring event on campus. (Annie Bergman Photo)

University of Wyoming undergraduates received firsthand guidance from 25 professionals in a variety of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines during the UW STEM “speed mentoring” event Thursday, Oct. 25, on the UW campus.

The event was aimed at undergraduate students who are involved in STEM research and was sponsored by the UW Science Initiative, the Wyoming IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence, Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium, McNair Scholars Program, the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Honors College.

The speed mentoring format is based on “speed dating,” with undergraduate research students meeting with mentors in short nine-minute rounds, and then rotating to talk with new mentors. Speed mentoring was followed by a dinner at which Ed Synakowski, UW’s vice president for research and economic development, spoke to the audience of students and mentors. He was the evening’s keynote speaker.

“The Science Initiative’s Wyoming Research Scholars Program (WRSP) held our first speed mentoring event in March. We received a lot of positive feedback, and suggestions to expand it. So, this fall, we partnered with other undergraduate research programs on campus to hold a larger event, with many more students and mentors,” says WRSP Director Jamie Crait, who credited the UW Foundation for helping launch the idea.

“This is a unique opportunity for groups and professionals across campus and the state to come together to strengthen our learning community and inspire the next generation of STEM professionals,” says Teddi Freedman, the K-14 project coordinator in the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science. “We are grateful for our participating mentors and the enthusiasm they share to connect and support our students.”

STEM speed mentoring events and similar professional development opportunities provide insights and information for students as they transition from college to STEM careers, helping them to be successful, says Shawna McBride, senior research scientist in the UW Department of Physics and Astronomy and with the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium.

“These types of programs and support are especially important for women in STEM, so that they can picture themselves in these fields and feel confident going into a STEM career,” she adds. “Meeting and interacting with female role models and mentors -- professional women in STEM fields -- provide examples of women succeeding in these fields, and that is a powerful connection.”

To view a complete biography of each UW professional in the speed mentoring event, visit The professionals who met with the WRSP students were:

-- Amy Allen, director of engineering for the city of Cheyenne and president of the Wyoming Engineering Society.

-- Christina Barrineau, an aquatic habitat biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, leading river restoration projects.

-- Aviva Braun, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cheyenne, specializing in fire weather.

-- Katie Cheesbrough, a habitat biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, working closely with both the Baggs and Platte Valley mule deer initiatives.

-- Kristin Di Bona, the co-founder of Wyonics LLC, focused on developing sustainable technologies.

-- Bob Grieve, a member of the Science Initiative Task Force, overseeing the Wyoming Research Scholars Program.

-- Michelle Hilaire, associate dean of students in the College of Health Sciences and chair of pharmacy practice.

-- Paul Johnson, a former professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

-- Lyman McDonald, co-founder and senior biometrician with Western EcoSystems Technology Inc. The firm oversees rangewide aerial surveys of the lesser prairie chicken population sizes in five states.

-- Ivy McLeod, who works at the NASA Johnson Space Center as a flight controller for the International Space Station.

-- Cheryl Eddy Miller, the U.S. Geological Survey Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center’s communications specialist and outreach coordinator.

-- Kara Nazminia, a third-year pharmacy student and the president of her pharmacy class, working as an intern at the Cheyenne Veterans Administration Medical Center.

-- Gregory Nickerson, a writer and filmmaker for the Wyoming Migration Initiative at UW, who educates the public about big-game migration research.

-- Andy Ommen, the quality control manager for the MilliporeSigma site in Laramie.

-- Kennan Oyen, a physiological ecologist and founder of IoTherm.

-- Lorna Pehl, the director of systems engineering at Metrohm Raman in Laramie, which produces spectrometers.

-- Erin Radosevich, a structural engineer and project manager for Malone Belton Abel.

-- Tammy Reed, the business unit manager for the infrastructure and water/wastewater department at Trihydro Corp.

-- Rhiannan Rubino, a physical therapist at the Spine and Injury Clinic of Laramie.

-- Steve Russell, the assistant dean of the College of Business.

-- Ed Synakowski, the vice president for research and economic development at UW.

-- Mikey Tabak, who works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture researching the risk associated with invasive wild pigs in North America.

-- Kurt Tuggle, a UW graduate in civil engineering who serves as executive vice president and chief operations officer with Trihydro.

-- Eileen Vandergrift, who maintains a private practice in individual psychotherapy and developed a grief program in Colorado.

-- Mark Wefel, a family medicine physician at Family Physicians of Laramie.

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



Contact Us

Institutional Communications
Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2929

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