Students travel the world this summer to help animals, people and the planet

Summertime for students is an escape into sun-drenched adventures and lakeside leisure. This summer break, many Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences students are splashing into research, internships and travel.

Jolena Herron, microbiology, class of 2017

Jolena HerronSummer adventure: Study abroad in Australia

Herron has held koala bears, traveled the country on her own, joined South Australia’s Ultimate Frisbee team, and eaten kangaroo, octopus and crocodile while Down Under. Traveling alone more than 8,000 miles from home has been intimidating for Herron, but the experience introduced new insight into her educational goals.

“Studying abroad helped me determine that although pharmacology is interesting and exciting, I don’t think that is the direction in microbiology I want to head into,” said Herron.

Herron returned from Australia at the end of June, and instead of chasing emus in the outback, she’s chasing new goals at CSU. “I have new goals and dreams now that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been abroad this long.”

Courtney Katz, biomedical sciences, class of 2016

Courtney KatzSummer adventure: Internship at the University College Dublin in Ireland

It’s not the luck of the Irish that took Katz to Dublin this summer — it’s her interest in molecular genetics. Katz is working in a rheumatoid arthritis research lab at University College Dublin, where she collects knee cartilage biopsies for research, and actually gets to put faces to the cells she’s studying. Katz is also gaining hands-on experience growing tissue cultures and will follow the process through to the final clinical results.

“This internship has allowed me to see how a human genetics lab works compared to a plant genetics lab, where I currently work at CSU,” said Katz. “It has definitely helped me gain experience in the molecular genetics field.”

Claire LandwehrClaire Landwehr, biomedical sciences, class of 2019

Summer adventure: Internship at Harmody Alpines, a Colorado goat farm

For as long as Landwehr can remember, she’s wanted to be a veterinarian. What better way to dive into animal medicine than working at a goat farm? She’s spending her summer feeding baby goats, milking does, pasteurizing milk, and even participating in basic medical procedures.

“During one of my first shifts, I was able to assist in the delivery of two kids,” said Landwehr. “It was so fun watching them grow up!”

Luna Martinez, environmental health, class of 2017

Luna MartinezSummer adventure: Internship with the Fort Collins Healthy Homes program

Martinez (right) is passionate about helping the public become better informed about living healthy lives. It goes beyond eating a daily dose of fruits and vegetables — we’re talking mold and mildew. Martinez is conducting free assessments of Fort Collins homes and sharing how they can find air quality triggers for respiratory issues, like chemical pollutants and biological contaminants. She also provides low to no-cost suggestions to improve the resident’s quality of life.

“I know really interesting things about keeping mold at bay and where to look in the washer for sources of mold as well as furnace maintenance tips,” said Martinez. “Renting and owning a home doesn’t come with a manual, so I feel very lucky to have ideas about radon, building code, the furnace, and pest entryways.”

Will Powell, biomedical sciences, class of 2018

Will PowellSummer adventure: ROTC training in Sri Lanka

Powell and his twin Jason both came to CSU on ROTC scholarships and were accepted into one of CSU’s most competitive undergraduate majors — talk about twinning. This summer, Will Powell bid farewell to his “wombmate” and traveled to Sri Lanka as part of his ROTC training.

The cadet helped with disaster relief after heavy flooding in the country, visited temples and schools to learn about the Sri Lankan culture, and toured their medical schools.

“I learned to interact with other cultures, and took away information that will one day help me operate as a second lieutenant,” said Powell.

Jackson Lee Runte, environmental health, class of 2016

Jackson RunteSummer adventure: Internship with the Indian Health Services in Shiprock, New Mexico

Runte has spent his summer vacation rafting down the San Juan River and spending hours with puppies and kittens, all in the name of public health. Runte is on the Navajo Nation Reservation inspecting and sanitizing areas where people have contracted hanta virus, and is working with a research team to collect water and sediment samples in the San Juan River to study the late effects of the Gold King Mine spill. More recently, he delivered rabies vaccinations to 1,746 cats and dogs on the reservation.

“The internship has helped me realize I prefer working in environments that involves hands-on work and my knowledge base,” said Runte. “It has motivated me to further my education into a technical skill, like dentistry or veterinary school.”

Elijah Ullman, neuroscience, class of 2019

Elijah UllmanSummer adventure: Research fellow at the University of Montana at Missoula

No, you didn’t misread that. Ullman just completed his freshman year at CSU and was awarded a research fellowship at a university. It’s kind of a big deal. The young scientist is probing cells with electrodes to search for clues that could one day create more effective drugs for epilepsy patients who experience seizures. You could call him a cell-mutation detective.

“I’m a CSU Ram on the trail of mutations,” said Ullman. “I may be young, but I want to help science find drugs that will finally help bring relief and rejoice to the millions of epilepsy sufferers and their loved ones.”