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Biokinetics and Business Students Research for Mayo Clinic

For four years, Bethel students have participated in the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program, a hands-on learning experience with real-world impact.

By Cherie Suonvieri '15, content specialist

March 15, 2019 | 8:45 a.m.

Biokinetics and Business Students

Luke Gohl ’19, Natalie Narloch ’19, Sara Bachand ’20, and Cole Smith ’20 presented their Mayo Innovation Scholars Program project in Rochester on March 7.

When her students graduate from Bethel, Professor of Business Joyce LeMay hopes they won’t just be brilliant thinkers—she hopes they’ll be able to collaborate with other great minds of different backgrounds, professions, and understandings in order to make a positive impact on the world. “Nobody works in a vacuum,” LeMay says. “Mayo Innovation Scholars Program gives students a chance to see what that looks like.”

Since fall 2015, Bethel students have participated in the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program (MISP), which pairs two science students with two business students to research an innovation for Mayo Clinic. This year’s team comprised biokinetics majors Sara Bachand ’20 and Cole Smith ’20, economics major Luke Gohl ’19, and business major Natalie Narloch ’19.

In October 2018, the group traveled to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for orientation and to receive their assignment. While project topics vary from year to year, they’re always healthcare-related and involve research, a written report, and a presentation at the conclusion of the program in March.

Since that first meeting at Mayo Clinic, the four students have met weekly to discuss their research and determine steps to move the project along. These meetings are coordinated by their team lead, an MBA student from an outside institution. “The team lead is the hands over the project, but they can’t have hands in,” explains Gohl. The team also has two faculty advisors: LeMay, from business, and Professor of Biokinetics Seth Paradis, from science, who are available as resources but not involved in regular meetings.

“I’ve realized that there may not be one right answer, and it’s important to navigate the different aspects of the problem in order to come up with the best solution.”

— Sara Bachand ’20, biokinetics major

Because MISP participants are required to sign non-disclosure agreements, they are unable to share details about their project. As for the lessons learned that further the students’ personal and professional growth, those are no secret. One overarching theme? The value of collaboration. 

“Everyone has a different perspective, and their perspective is so valid,” says Bachand. “You may think you know more about one aspect, but when you hear what someone else has to say it often sheds more light on the issue—and as Christians we can’t be prideful, but need to have humble and teachable spirits.” 

Specifically, the collaboration between both biokinetics and business students for this type of project is critical. With scientific backgrounds, Bachand and Smith are able to look at the concept through the lens of the clinic. From a business standpoint, Gohl and Narloch can help the team imagine how the innovation might work if it were actually implemented.

“Obviously, they know something I don’t know…” Gohl says, noting that each one of the team members, even those that come from the same department, have a different knowledge base. “We’re able to funnel all of it down into a nice little package. We’re all learning, teaching, doing, and sitting back at the same time.”

Before this project, Bachand considered herself a “black and white thinker,” but she says this project has challenged her to think about things differently. “I’ve realized that there may not be one right answer,” she explains, “and it’s important to navigate the different aspects of the problem in order to come up with the best solution.” 

The MISP project checks all the boxes when it comes to a student’s R.E.A.L. Experience, according to Paradis, who first decided to initiate Bethel’s participation in MISP when the founding program director, John Meslow, used one word: ambiguity.

“In a world of step-by-step instructions and academic rubrics, the MISP project starts in ambiguity and it is the responsibility of the team to define, organize, and a complete a project based on data,” Paradis says. “This messy journey of ambiguity prepares students better than any textbook out there.”

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The R.E.A.L. Experience

At Bethel, education is more than what happens in the classroom. Through the R.E.A.L. Experience, students are provided with strong instruction and a wide variety of hands-on learning activities to equip them with the skills employers are looking for and the character the world needs.

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