Three Gusties Land Coveted Research InternshipsThe Hormel Institute will provide learning and professional opportunities in the biomedical field.
Posted on May 6th, 2024 by

The Hormel Institute welcomes college students every summer to conduct high-level biomedical research.

Gustavus has established a new strategic partnership with The Hormel Institute, a world class biomedical research facility in Austin, MN, that provides research internships every summer for multiple Gusties and other undergraduate students.

The Institute, which is part of the University of Minnesota’s Research and Innovation Office, accepted 15 students from a pool of 160 applicants for its Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE), and three Gustavus students have accepted the offers. There will be a Gustavus-Hormel Institute Research Symposium this summer at which the students will create poster presentations of their work and what they’ve learned.

Rachel Trebesch ’25

The three interns—Brynn Johnson ‘26, Rachel Trebesch ‘25, and Hannah Brenke ‘25— will begin the 10-week paid experience in June. Past Gusties who have completed the internship have lauded its immersive opportunities to perform high-level biomedical research, and cited how the opportunity helped them focus or solidify their post-graduate academic and professional plans.

The internship includes a stipend and housing a short drive from The Institute, and the projects involve working with professional researchers in a supportive environment. “I was able to perform or assist with experiments that I may not have been able to do at Gustavus, and everyone there is incredibly kind and accommodating,” said Maria Sylvester ’24, who worked at The Institute last summer. “I felt as though all the faculty were truly excited for us interns to be there and were more than happy to answer questions.”

Trebesch is a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) major with a Chemistry track who has completed the First-Year Research Experience (FYRE) program at Gustavus, as well as another research project on campus last summer. Her Hormel Institute project will be conducting preclinical studies identifying mechanisms that increase breast cancer risk and mortality in women born to overweight or obese mothers. “It’s very different from what I’ve worked on so far, looking at actual cancer, but it’s interesting and a curiosity of mine,” Trebesch said. “So, I’m really excited to be placed with this project.” She added that she’s also looking forward to the networking opportunities with the Institute’s researchers and her fellow students.

Brynn Johnson ’26

Johnson sees this internship as another chance to figure out where she wants to focus her post-graduate possibilities. The BMB major is on a pre-med track and has already worked in a genetics and molecular diagnostics pathology lab, and as a nurse’s aide since her high school years. “[The first lab] was a super cool experience that I really enjoyed, and this project will be me trying to narrow down and see if research is something I want to pursue later,” she said. “I’ve always been really interested in humans in general. A lot of that stands for my faith, but I was very interested in sciences from the beginning. I was always the kid who was reading the human anatomy book.”

Hannah Brenke ’25

Brenke will be working with a researcher who studies viruses and their mechanisms, a compelling prospect for someone like her, because “I love viruses,” she said. The Biology major and Public Health minor is still determining what direction she’d like to pursue after Gustavus and is hoping the SURE program will help clarify that. “I always really liked bio and the medical field, but I didn’t know where specifically I wanted to go,” she said. “I’ve switched my focus and still haven’t quite figured it out. But I thought this would be a good experience to get in the workforce, look around, and experience it firsthand to get a feel for it.”

As someone who has completed the SURE program, Sylvester highly recommended it. “The encouraging atmosphere makes it an awesome place for future Gusties to intern,” she said. “Anyone from the Biology, Chemistry, or BMB majors will be successful, and the research labs cover a huge range of topics that employ many different specialties. Anyone who is curious, interested in research, and doesn’t mind living in a small town would be a good applicant.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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