CBS alumni, we want to know what you're up to! Keep the college updated on what's happening with by completing a brief Class Notes form. We'll select submissions to include in upcoming editions of BIO, our alumni and donor magazine.
Spring 2023 updates
Kelsie Becklin (B.S. Biology, ’17) completed her Ph.D. in comparative and molecular biosciences at the University of Minnesota in December. Her doctoral work focused on stem cell biology and gene engineering to better understand cancer initiation and early development. “My son was one when I started my educational journey, and he is 12 now. Going back to school as a nontraditional student and a single mom was hard but the payoff has been amazing,” she says.
After completing her undergraduate degree at CBS, Amy Groszbach (B.S. Biochemistry, ’93) went on to earn an advanced degree in adult education from the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development. For the past 30 years she has made a career at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where she serves as program director for the Molecular Genetics Technology Internship program and education coordinator in the Molecular Technologies Laboratory. She teaches molecular diagnostics to many different learners, including medical laboratory science students and pathology residents.
Charles Hernick (B.S. Ecology Evolution and Behavior, ’03) started a new role in October as Amazon’s head of ESG Policy, where he focuses on environmental, social and corporate governance and sustainability policy. Before joining the company, he led a Washington, D.C.–based advocacy organization that engaged Republicans on bipartisan clean energy and climate policy. He also led environmental and social impact assessments in over a dozen countries around the world for USAID as a private-sector consultant. He lives in Annapolis with his wife, Pamela, and their children.
Robert Iverson (B.S. Zoology, ’75) retired in 2011 after 28 years in the medical device industry, most recently as a director of quality in design assurance. His current passion is for the environment and, in particular, addressing climate change.
Recent graduate Jamie Nesbit (M.S. Biological Sciences, ’22) celebrated two major milestones in the past year. He got married to Diane Hubbell, whom he met in 2018 in Minneapolis. He also started his “dream job” in the U of M Department of Plant Pathology working with cereal diseases and disease-resistant cultivars.
Soon after graduating, Jake Robinson (B.S. Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, ’19) married Sarah al’Absi (B.S. Microbiology, ’19), whom he met in a biology lab on the St. Paul campus. Both Jake and Sarah are medical students at the University of Minnesota and welcomed their baby daughter this fall. “We are studying and caring for a baby almost every hour of the day and it is looking very busy for the next six or so years!” says Robinson.
C. Estelle Smith (B.S. Neuroscience, ’15) began a position as assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the Colorado School of Mines. Her research focuses on computational spiritual support as a design lens for serving users’ deepest needs during life-threatening health crises, including physical and mental illness.
A first-year medical student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Rashika Shetty (B.S. Neuroscience, ’20) spent time conducting medical intakes for Afghan families newly arrived in the Twin Cities as site lead for the Mobile Health Initiative in recent years. Rashika, whose family immigrated to the United States when she was 10, felt called to help others adjust to life in a new country.
Robert Valente (B.S. Microbiology, ’77) retired from his rheumatology private practice in 2021. Since retirement, he has split his time between Minnesota and Missouri spending time with his grandchild, landscaping, barbecuing, boating, swimming, downhill skiing and traveling with my wife, Vicki. His oldest son is finishing a rheumatology fellowship at the University of Minnesota. His resolution for 2023? “To be a better Gophers fan!”
Courtney Burnett (B.S. Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, ’13) is a hospital medicine physician and medical educator working at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. After graduation from CBS, she attended medical school at Northwestern University and completed her residency training in internal medicine at the University of Minnesota. Just before starting her chief residency, she was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. Burnett saw this as an opportunity to spread awareness and help others going through their own difficult experience. She is the creator of the blog “Elephant, Lotus, Brain Tumor” and author of the award-winning memoir Difficult Gifts: A Physician’s Journey to Heal Body and Mind. She spends her time outside of the hospital writing and speaking to raise awareness for brain and rare cancers, disability inclusion and patient advocacy.