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UW Students, STEM Professionals Participate in Speed Mentoring Event

people talking across a table
Mentor Karen Mruk, right, an assistant professor in the UW School of Pharmacy, meets with UW students Zoe Hendricks, left, from Colorado Springs, Colo., and Adrienne Mackenzie, of Wright, during the recent UW STEM speed mentoring event. (UW Photo)

Nearly 50 University of Wyoming undergraduate students received firsthand guidance from 30 professionals in a variety of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines during the recent UW STEM “speed mentoring” event.

The Oct. 24 speed mentoring event consisted of 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 and a keynote address by Wyoming native and UW alumna Ivy McLeod, who works at NASA’s Johnson Space Center as a flight controller for the International Space Station.

The UW Science Initiative’s Wyoming Research Scholars Program (WRSP), the Wyoming IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium, the UW Honors College and Women in Math, Science and Engineering sponsored the event.

“This is the third time we’ve held the STEM speed mentoring event, and it has continued to grow each year,” says Jamie Crait, WRSP director. “The speed mentoring format provides a nice opportunity for students to learn from STEM professionals in a fun, not-too-intimidating setting. There always seems to be a lot of energy in the rooms.”

Students have opportunities to meet professionals from their fields of interest and also professionals in fields they may not have thought about pursuing, says Annie Bergman, INBRE Student Program director. Most of the mentors are UW alumni, she adds.

“It is so gratifying to see people, such as my dentist and graduate students I have seen complete their degrees at UW, come to this event and engage with the undergraduate students with such enthusiasm and provide words of encouragement,” Bergman says.

To view a complete biography of each STEM professional in the speed mentoring event, visit

The professionals who met with the students were:

-- Christina Barrineau, an aquatic habitat biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, who leads river restoration and riparian enhancement projects.

-- Greg Brown, associate dean of the UW College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of botany, who oversees the Science Initiative.

-- Katie Cheesbrough, a wildlife biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, who works on the Platte Valley Habitat Partnership Mule Deer Initiative.

-- Kelly Haigler Cornish, program manager for the Wyoming Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Initiative.

-- Mark Cupps, a chiropractor in Laramie.

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

-- Vivian Georgalas, entrepreneurial services coordinator at the Wyoming Business Council.

-- Nick Hauser, a product manager at MilliporeSigma, who oversees several products used in pharmaceutical analysis.

-- Franki-Marie Herdt, interim lead microbiology technical specialist at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.

-- Christina Hiegel, a senior engineer at Trihydro.

-- Rhiannon Jakopak, an alumna of WRSP and a master’s degree student in zoology and environment and natural resources.

-- Chad LeBeau, a research biologist with Western EcoSystems Technology (WEST), who focuses on greater sage-grouse.

-- Jessica Markham, a recruiter in Human Resources at Trihydro.

-- Ivy McLeod, a flight controller for the International Space Station.

-- John McPherson, a dentist in Laramie.

-- Karen Mruk, an assistant professor in the UW School of Pharmacy.

-- Otto Novota, a medical laboratory scientist at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.

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

-- Lorna Pehl, director of systems engineering at Metrohm Raman.

-- Diem Pham, a biometrician with WEST.

-- Erin Phillips, a geologist at the Center for Economic Geology Research at the UW School of Energy Resources.

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

-- Rhiannon Rubino, a physical therapist at Premier Bone and Joint Centers.

-- Justin Schaefer, co-owner and senior analyst for Troxel Aerospace, which performs consulting, analysis and radiation test services.

-- Christy Schultz, field operations manager for the Observatory Operations Group in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Earth System Research Laboratory’s Global Monitoring Division.

-- Kelsie Speiser, a veterinarian with Gem City Veterinary Services.

-- Jim Stafford, a geohydrologist for the Wyoming State Geological Survey.

-- Dale Strickland, president and senior ecologist at WEST.

-- Jim Vandyke, a network engineer with the National Center for Atmospheric Research-Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne.

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

Students who participated in the speed mentoring event, listed by hometowns and majors, were:

Ada, Okla. -- Riley Quigley, mechanical engineering.

Berthoud, Colo. -- Kevin Schnedecker, microbiology and molecular biology.

Buford -- Amanda Christensen, chemical engineering.

Casper -- Adam Couldridge, geology and chemistry; Tatiana Rice, physiology and Spanish; Nicholas Robinson, mechanical engineering; and Rachel Tenney, chemistry and physics.

Cedar Park, Texas -- Theresa Higgins, zoology and physiology.

Cheyenne -- Kelsie Bowcutt, molecular biology; Melanie Griffith, computer engineering; Michelle Kilpatrick, microbiology; Emily Purifoy, pre-veterinary medicine; Austin Stephen, computer science; and Hunter Swilling, physiology.

Colorado Springs, Colo. -- Zoe Hendricks, physiology.

Duvall, Wash. -- Karen Bauman, molecular biology.

Gillette -- Kayla McGee, mechanical engineering.

Green River -- McKell Lyon, physics.

Jackson -- Colin Finlay, microbiology.

Laramie -- Michelle Beaulieu, mathematics; Briley James, electrical engineering; Rebecca Lawrence, microbiology; Savanna Moore, mathematics; Kit Ng, microbiology; Trevor Wobschall, microbiology; and Angela Zhu, zoology.

Lawrenceburg, Ky. -- Elle Buser, mathematics and physics.

Lincoln, Neb. -- Jacob Schlatter, zoology.

Miles City, Mont. -- Nick Mitchell, zoology.

Millersburg, Ind. -- Carrie Anglemeyer, microbiology and molecular biology.

Morrison, Colo. -- Selma Shepherd, microbiology.

Parker, Colo. -- Alexandra Higley, physics and astronomy/astrophysics; and Andrea Schmitt, physiology.

Rock Springs -- Hanna Ahuja, physiology.

Salt Lake City, Utah -- Kaatje Fisk, molecular biology.

Scottsbluff, Neb. -- Shianne Shaver, architectural engineering.

Shencottah, India -- Ragha Mohan, psychology.

Sheridan -- Caleb Hoopes, chemistry; Joseph Klebba, mechanical engineering and computer science; Aeriana Roth, electrical engineering; Delainy Szmyd, physiology; and Tanner Warder, wildlife and fisheries biology and management.

Stillwater, Minn. -- Rebecca Franke, zoology.

Story -- Benjamin Romanjenko, microbiology and molecular biology.

Waunakee, Wis. -- Rachel Shrode, biology and Spanish.

Wilson -- Gabrielle St. Clair, chemistry.

Worland -- Narisse Trippel, mechanical engineering and energy systems engineering.

Wright -- Adrienne Mackenzie, animal science.

For more information 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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