Classroom to Careers: Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith
Senior in Biochemistry Summer Research Fellow at Mayo Clinics

From ISU Labs to Mayo Clinics

Adrienne Smith felt at home at Iowa State before she even walked into her first differential equations class as a freshman. No stranger to campus, she had visited many times before with her father, alum of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Once she decided on her major, she knew Iowa State was the right choice. Now starting her final year at ISU, Adrienne has returned from Minnesota after spending her summer as an undergraduate research fellow at the top hospital in the nation.

As one of around 120 students selected from across the country, Adrienne worked in the Department of Immunology at Mayo Clinics as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. “I chose to work in that department to decide if this was the path I wanted to take during graduate school and I ended up loving the research I was doing with immune cell signaling and working alongside scientists and physicians,” said Adrienne.

Adrienne's Advice

How can you be sure to make the most of your time when you’re just starting college or a new internship? Adrienne says, introduce yourself to people and ask more questions. “Maybe I would’ve found another intimidated freshman sitting right next to me in Differential Equations and it would have made the class less daunting,” said Adrienne.

And when talking about her fellowship at Mayo Adrienne said, “In all the confusion of working in an unfamiliar setting, something simple like, ‘What’s the best place to get a burger downtown?’ would have helped me be more comfortable in a new environment.”

Going Beyond Coursework

In preparing for her internship, Adrienne said her Biochemistry courses gave me the molecular background for the projects she worked on at Mayo, but nothing prepares you to work in a laboratory like hands-on experience, which is why she is so grateful to have joined Dr. Olga Zabotina’s lab as undergraduate research assistant in 2014.

She was able to present her research at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA in April of last year, and received the “Best Post Award” in a category with graduate students, postdocs and principle investigators. She is also a BBMB Stupka Scholar, and has served on the Stupka Undergraduate Research Symposium Committee since her freshman year.

“Academics and coursework are great, but it’s the memories and connections you make at Iowa State that are going to stay with you for the rest of your life,” said Adrienne. “I highly encourage everyone to take advantage of all the opportunities to go to professional conferences and internships, regardless of your major.”