Denisonians in Health Professions: Molecular & Developmental Biology

Name:  Kelsey Troyer (maiden name Elliott)
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2015
Denison Major:  Biology
Graduate Degree Type:  PhD in Molecular and Developmental Biology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Class of 2020
Contact Me:  kelseyhope15@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school and career pathway: what impacted your decision?

I was interested in programs that focused on ‘translational’ biomedical sciences, where I could work on human diseases. When going on interviews, the funding scenarios of the PI’s in the programs significantly weighed on my decision to choose a program in the end.

What challenges did you face on the way to or during graduate school, and how did you overcome them?

Finding somewhere to live when moving to a new city! It’s difficult to balance living somewhere close to work, but not too expensive. Graduate school stipends are tiny!! Finding roommates in your new graduate school class is a great way to get around this. Additionally, I found it difficult to decide which faculty I was going to rotate with since I had so many scientific interests! The best advice I got to curb that was to do extremely diverse rotations, I did one with a brand new faculty, one with a very established faculty member, and one with a mid-career faculty member, and all gave very different lab environments.

What has been your favorite part of your graduate school experience so far?

Indulging my curiosities and being able to set my own schedule. This is unfortunate a blessing and a curse, since grad students don’t get dedicated ‘Paid time off’ or ‘vacation days’, so I get to take as much or as little time off as I want, and work as many or as few hours a week as I need to. Some weeks are good, some weeks are bad. Flexibility is a fantastic thing about graduate school.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

I am planning to do a post-doctoral fellowship followed by a career in Science Policy.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate program like yours?

Think about what kind of research topics you want to do, and find a place where there are an abundance of faculty you could see yourself working with. Finding a place where the current students seem happy is also important. I did at least one interview somewhere that all the students couldn’t wait to leave the program. Make sure the program boasts about their rates of students landing their top choice post-doc or industry job, and that their faculty aren’t anti-industry! Some places will be full of faculty that look down on industry, and it’s important to find opportunities to explore that since not EVERY PhD can/wants to stay in academia.

Denison Internship Program: Featured Summer Intern

Caeli Davis

Year:  Class of 2021
Majors:  Biology, and Health, Exercise & Sport Studies (HESS)
Internship Provider:  University of Kentucky
Title:  Research Assistant
Location:  Lexington, KY


What are you doing for your internship? What are some of your responsibilities?

I am conducting research on ovarian cancer. I am looking specifically at fluids in screening and if a sonographer sees fluids in a screening can it correlate to cancer or abnormalities. Every day I collect the data from the sonographers and then go back to the lab and analyze the results. Also, go through the patient records and see if they have a family history of cancer. Through this research, I will be able to identify if there are fluids in a patients screening will that raise concern.

What do you like most about your internship so far? What has been your favorite part of the experience?

My favorite part of the internship is learning more about how to conduct research and how screening patients can result in discovering maybe the cause of ovarian cancer or other types of cancer. I also love how I am able to do research but have days where I am experiencing vast areas of the medical field if that being observing live surgeries in the OR, doing rotations with the medical students or working with a different provider to see what they do and sitting in to Tumor Conference where doctors talk about their patients and see what they are doing is the best thing for the patient. Also exploring Kentucky and seeing Lexington with the different opportunities they offer. More importantly, listening to the patients and hear their stories on how grateful they are for the program and how it saved their lives.

Which skills have you learned or strengthened during your internship that you think will help when applying for jobs/graduate schools?

I have strengthened my use of Microsoft Excel and analyzing data. Also, multitasking I have learned that I feel will help me when applying for jobs in the future. Another thing is not having tunnel vision taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture because there were times I became frustrated and taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture helped me from not missing anything. I am able to communicate with coworkers and patients effectively I am not as nervous and is able to vocalize what I needed or what I can bring to the table. I feel that these skills will be applicable to any team-based job that covers multiple duties. I also feel more prepared for a job with the potential to grow into a higher position.

How has your time and experience at Denison prepared you for this internship? How have you used your liberal arts education during your internship?

My time and experiences at Denison have definitely prepared me for my internship. Especially with my HESS degree and learning about the patients and not treating them like such. Even with the multiple assignments, I am given in the office, it is no different than Denison’s rigorous and fast paced required academic assignments from the variety of classes that I take. In addition, my experiences at Denison, working in the classroom, consist of problem solving and creativity. For the most part, I was doing lab work the attention to detail that I learned is really important especially for what I am doing.

Denison Internship Program: Featured Summer Intern

Casey Pearce

Year:  Class of 2021 (Rising Junior)
Major:  Biology & Environmental Studies
Internship Provider: New Mexico Wildlife Center
Title:  Hospital Intern
Location:  Española, NM


What are you doing for your internship? What are some of your responsibilities?

On a day-to-day basis I take care of injured wildlife and help to prepare them for release into the wild. I deal with wild animals from Golden Eagles, to Elk, to Bull Snakes, to the common House Finch. I have learned the basics of cleaning and flushing wounds, administering medications, mixing medications, preparing diets for all animals, hand feeding baby animals, processing and developing x-rays, and many more tasks. I am currently learning how to properly dress wounds, assess fractures, and stabilize fractures. I am also currently writing for their social media in the form of hospital news updates on our patients and releases.

What do you like most about your internship so far? What has been your favorite part of the experience?

In my internship so far, I really enjoy hand feeding baby birds and providing medical care. My favorite part of the experience is being able to do releases of animals, so far I have been able to release a Mountain Cottontail and a Grosbeak.

Which skills have you learned or strengthened during your internship that you think will help when applying for jobs/graduate schools?

I have learned a great deal about everyday animal husbandry and caring for injured wildlife. As I would like to do something in the field of wildlife biology, these are excellent skills that will take me very far in my career field. I have had the chance to handle all different kinds of wildlife from songbirds, to raptors, to small mammals, and even ungulates! Perhaps more importantly, I have had a lot of time to do self reflection on how I work in a team and how to better understand and get along with my team members. We also interact with the public in a professional manner on a daily basis; educating the public is an invaluable experience in this job.

How has your time and experience at Denison prepared you for this internship? How have you used your liberal arts education during your internship?

My time at Denison has helped me prepare to balance a busy schedule and multitask very efficiently. Denison has introduced me to a huge variety of people from all different backgrounds and in my internship I have met even more people that I knew how to work with and talk to effectively. I have had an easy transition here from Denison’s level of comprehensive education; I feel as if I was very well prepared for this internship due to excellency of my education at Denison and the wide variety of topics we covered.

Denison Internship Program: Featured Summer Intern

Denison internship program; featured summer intern - veronika-danchine-247x300.png image #0Veronika Danchine

Year:  Class of 2020 (Rising Senior)
Major:  Biology
Internship Provider:  University of California, San Francisco
Title:  Visiting Scholar
Location:  San Francisco, CA


What are you doing for your internship? What are some of your responsibilities?

I am conducting research in the orthopedic department of UCSF Benioff’s Children’s Hospital in San Francisco and Oakland campuses. I am researching how to improve patient portal “MyChart” which is the electronic hub for all patient information regarding their health care including appointment information, medication lists, and send non-urgent messages to their provider. I am administering surveys to teen patients (11-17 yrs) and their parents to understand what functions of the portal they appreciate and think need improvement. The patient populations I am studying are adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients and ACL tear patients.

What do you like most about your internship so far? What has been your favorite part of the experience?

It is a multidimensional experience. I am able to both shadow Dr. Diab and collect data at his clinics each week. I love the hospital environment and working at a world-renowned facility that is full of resources and amazing professionals. You are learning at every turn and observe how doctors work with nurses, patients, and their students. An added perk is that San Francisco city is full of activities and nature/parks all at your fingertips.

Which skills have you learned or strengthened during your internship that you think will help when applying for jobs/graduate schools?

I have refined how to interact with patients and other health care professionals. It can be difficult to collaborate in such a large institution so finding the resources you need is a skill that you learn. Along with this, you learn to ask questions and reach out for help and working closely with the research coordinator. You are shadowing yes, but you are also independent because the doctor or PI will mention something that they think you should look into and it is up to you to take initiative and research if it is feasible.

How has your time and experience at Denison prepared you for this internship? How have you used your liberal arts education during your internship?

Networking through Denison helped me land this internship. Also, I was a summer researcher and Denison last summer that helped me prepare for a summer of research anywhere in the world. Although I was doing lab work at Denison with Dr. Caldari, the attention to detail that I learned is really important, especially for surgery. I am able to write about what I am doing/researching eloquently and clearly which I learned with my poster presentation at Denison.