Fall 2018 CBS Circles

CBS Circles are small groups of juniors, seniors, and transfer students who meet regularly to learn, develop, and connect with one another. CBS Circles help you transcend the checklist mentality and make the most of your remaining time in CBS by doing something that matters to you.



Each Fall 2018 Circle listed below is focused around a specific topic or goal and will share the common thread of small group peer support. Each Circle is facilitated by a paid CBS Circle Guide who designed the topic or goal of that Circle. Because Circles are small peer accountability groups, each Circle will need to have a minimum of two student participants in Fall 2018. Any Circle with less than two participants will not be able to be offered. Meeting days/times of the Fall 2018 Circles will be scheduled in collaboration with the Circle Guide and the other participants in the Circle.

If you are a CBS junior, senior, or transfer student (by class year, not number of credits), complete the sign-up form to participate in any of the CBS Circles this fall.

  • 3D Printing in Medicine

    Meetings every other week throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Claire Thomas, a Cellular and Organismal Physiology major with minors in Anthropology and Public Health. Claire is a junior and is involved in several organizations, including the Mayo Clinic's 3D Anatomic Lab, the Visible Heart Lab, the Institute of Engineering in Medicine, and the Athletic Medicine Internship program.

    This Circle will revolve around the expanding use of 3D printing in optimizing health care. We will learn about the different applications that 3D printing has and how to use the software to make models. The content and activities in this Circle will include software tutorials (such as ITK-Snap and Meshmixer), how to work different 3D printing technologies, and brainstorming different projects that could be used by physicians in healthcare in order to optimize patient care. 

  • Biological Origins in Folklore and Science Fiction

    Weekly meetings throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Christine Lian, a Biology major. Christine is a senior who hopes to study pursue biological research after graduation. Currently, Christine is part of a research team in the Cotner Lab to observe the relationship between gender and confidence in STEM fields.

    Each week, this Circle will discuss a different myth or tale and how these relate to biology, physiology, and/or medicine. We would discuss whether we think the creatures described in these stories could actually be feasible, based on our understanding of biology in organisms today, such as the likelihood of a zombie outbreak. The goals of this Circle include fostering an interest in folklore and the history of medicine and learning about various medical or biological conditions that are seen in folklore. Books will be provided for participants.

  • Career Confusion: When Science Isn't Your Only Passion

    Weekly meetings throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Narmada Venkateswaran, a Biology major with an English minor. Narmada is a junior and is very interested in merging her interests in ecology and plant pathology with her interests in entrepreneurship, sustainability, and writing. She is currently working toward an MPH in Environmental Health and hopefully a PhD in the future.

    This Circle is for individuals who are currently CBS majors but have other interests they may be struggling to incorporate or are concerned they will have to give up when deciding on a career, such as art and biology, or business and biology. Discussions in this Circle will incorporate media representations as well as real-life stories of individuals who are pursuing interdisciplinary careers grounded in science and discuss and analyze the steps they took to reach these careers. The goal of this Circle is for participants to consider ways they can merge their interests, such as through a self-designed research project or by exploring at least one potential career that combines their interests to some degree.

  • CBS Vegans

    Weekly meetings throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Chantal Kloth, an EEB major with minors in Nutrition and the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Chantal currently works at Fairview Ridges Hospital as a CNA on the Oncology Med/Surg unit. While she's still not quite set on what she wants to do long-term post-graduation, she is planning on taking a gap year or two to work on an international cruise ship.

    The purpose of this Circle is to discuss topics related to veganism, such as factory farms, overfishing and pollution of the ocean ecosystems, destruction of the rainforests, the history of plant-based diets, and the health concerns of families living near factory farms. Activities in this Circle could include learning to make new (and cheap!) vegan meals, watching vegan-related videos, trying food from the community's multiple vegan restaurants, or volunteering at vegan events in the surrounding areas as a group.

  • De-stigmatizing Disabilities and Mental Health

    Weekly meetings throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Alexandra Finley, a Biochemistry major with a Technical Writing and Communication minor. Alexandra is an aspiring genetic counselor and mental health advocate. She serves as Marketing Chair on the College of Biological Sciences Student Board (CBSSB), represents CBS on the Educational Policy Committee, dabbles in graphic design, and volunteers at the Sexual Violence Center as a crisis-line advocate.

    The goal of this Circle is to be an open place to discuss disabilities (physical and/or psychological) and mental health. Acknowledging a disability – whether physical or psychological – in today's world can be accompanied by stigma, prejudice, or discomfort. This Circle would attempt to break a bit of that stigma by opening the discussion between members in the group about perspectives on certain disabilities and participating in activities such as reading articles or watching videos.

  • Developing Wellness and Balance Through Healthy Habits

    Weekly meetings throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Nina Pascual, a Biology major with a Leadership minor. Nina is a third year student and plans on applying to medical school next year. Previously, she held an internship with the pharmaceutical and medical device company Fresenius-Kabi in the Chicago area focusing on clinical trials for blood apheresis devices. She is a Junior Guild Leader for the Nature of Life program and a Teaching Assistant for BIOL 1001.

    This Circle will be a space to learn more about wellness, health, and lifestyle, along with practicing self-reflection. Activities in this Circle may include attending a yoga or meditation class, journaling, or creating art projects. Discussions in the Circle will focus on learning about and implementing healthy habits, such as healthy eating or mindfulness-based stress reduction, based on each participant's personal definition of wellness. Participants in this Circle would also learn about U of M campus resources that support health and wellness.

  • Grad Ready: GRE Preparation and Research Experiences

    Weekly meetings throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Alicia Wong, a Biochemistry major with a Japanese minor. Alicia transferred from Drake University in 2016 and is currently a Transfer Peer Guide in BIOL 3001: Nature of Science and Research. She is also an undergraduate researcher in the Alejandro Lab. After graduation, she hopes to do a joint JD/PhD program.

    This Circle will be focused on two core aspects of graduate school preparation: the GRE exam and research experiences. The initial portion of meetings will be focused on helping participants find resources to advance their current undergraduate research, whether that is reaching out to mentors, finding fellowship opportunities, or exploring labs/research topics. A great bulk of the other meetings will be focused on preparation for the GRE, including first finding a diagnostic score range and then working on targeted practice to help participants reach a realistic goal score. 

  • Life After College: Exploring Career Opportunities and Graduate Programs in the Life Sciences

    Weekly meetings throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Megan Kome, a Biochemistry and Microbiology major with a Chemistry minor. Megan plans on going to graduate school after college. She has a bit of experience working in labs on campus and completed a UROP last spring. This past summer, she worked as a microbiology intern at a local startup company.

    Meetings for this Circle will focus on exploring and preparing for different careers in the life sciences. This could include activities such as researching employers who hire individuals with degrees in the life sciences and exploring what career opportunities are available in this field. We may also research graduate school options to determine schools and programs that could be necessary for some career opportunities.

  • MCAT Motivation

    Weekly meetings throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Michael Dahl, a Neuroscience major with a Psychology minor. Michael is a junior transfer student whose goal is to continue his education and increase his general level of knowledge concerning medicine, but first he aspires to conquer the MCAT. 

    The purpose of this Circle would be to help prepare students for the MCAT exam. This Circle would aim to ease some of the anxiety that is common with the exam by addressing all sections of the MCAT in a methodical fashion. This would allow participants the necessary time to understand the concepts and questions which may be asked on the exam. Depending on time, we may also discuss medical school-related topics such as volunteering, education opportunities/shadowing, or possible jobs.

  • Opening Doors for Women in Science

    Meetings every other week throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Elisabeth Parr, a GCD major. Elisabeth transferred from Southern Illinois University and is currently part of a cancer research lab on campus. She hopes to go into Pediatric Oncology.

    This Circle is open to anyone interested in discussing women in science, including learning about important women in the field that we may not have learned about in classes and discussing what we can gain from their achievements, along with potentially talking to a female faculty member in the sciences at the U of M about their career. This Circle will also include an opportunity for the participants in this Circle to share and learn about the personal experiences of women in the sciences.

  • Preparing for a Career in Biological Research

    Weekly meetings throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Andy Lea, a GCD major. Andy is a junior and has experience in research working for the University of Minnesota Genomics Center. He plans to work as a researcher in the private sector after graduation.

    This Circle is focused on careers in biological research, including exploring prerequisites for certain jobs, what steps are necessary to prepare for a career in biological research, any post-graduate schooling that may be necessary for these careers, and how to find relevant employment while an undergraduate student. Some activities in this Circle may include talking with a research scientist at the U of M and practicing for interviews for research labs.

  • Promoting Inclusivity through Education and Action

    Weekly meetings throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Catherine Holl, a Biology major with a Management minor. Catherine has worked in Clay Carter's plant biology lab as an undergraduate researcher since she was a freshman, and hopes to pursue conservation biology after graduation.

    The goals of this Circle are centered on inclusivity, including learning about the experiences of those that are marginalized or face discrimination. Activities could include reading articles, books, or watching videos that share perspectives on these experiences. Discussions in this Circle will also include action steps that can be taken to create more inclusive structures, practices, and environments.

  • Representation of Ethnic Minorities in American Media

    Weekly meetings throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Alicia Wong, a Biochemistry major with a Japanese minor. Alicia transferred from Drake University in 2016 and is currently a Transfer Peer Guide in BIOL 3001: Nature of Science and Research. She is also an undergraduate researcher in the Alejandro Lab. After graduation, she hopes to do a joint JD/PhD program.

    The portrayal of ethnic minorities in American media has evolved throughout history, creating a fascinating topic of study. This is a discussion-based Circle focused on the representation of ethnic minorities in media, specifically in books and movies. Meetings each week will be focused on different content, such as "The Joy Luck Club" and "Get Out," and excerpts and clips will be read/viewed during meetings. The Circle is meant to be a platform through which participants can bring in individual and unique perspectives and engage in meaningful debate, discussion, and learning. 

  • "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" Discussion Group

    Meetings every other week throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Olivia Trudeau, a Biology major with a French minor. Olivia is a member of Sehoya Cotner's research group, which focuses on representation and equity in STEM education and research. Olivia plans to attend graduate school to become a genetic counselor.

    This Circle will start off as a book club for "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot, which details the life of a woman whose cancer cells were collected by researchers without her knowledge. The HeLa cell line has been widely used in research since then. The book will be provided for participants and they will read the book on their own time. During Circle meetings, we will discuss the content of the book including thoughts, reactions, and questions, explore the scientific uses of the HeLa cell line, and discuss the controversy and ethical issues surrounding scientific research and the application of biological technologies. 

  • Using Design Thinking as Healthcare Professionals

    Weekly meetings throughout Fall 2018; Facilitated by Chetana Guthikonda, a Neuroscience major with a Youth Studies minor. Chetana currently does research in the Department of Psychiatry, is part of the Acara Student Leadership Team, and is a founding member of Case for a Cause, a group that hosts case competitions for middle school students in the Twin Cities. 

    The use of design thinking, a concept traditionally taught in entrepreneurship as a human-centered approach to create products and solve user issues, is a tool used to create sustainable social impact with a lot of research and inspiring examples in the real world. The three components of this Circle would be one, understanding what design thinking is; two, looking into current examples of how design thinking is being used by healthcare professionals; and three, reflecting on how one can incorporate design thinking principles into their daily lives as future healthcare professionals.