Spring 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 Spring 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 Spring 2018. Any Circle with less than two participants will not be able to be offered. Meeting days/times of the Spring 2018 Circles will be scheduled in collaboration with the Circle Guide and the other participants in the Circle, unless the Circle is continuing from the fall semester and has already determined their meeting day/time (which is noted below).

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 spring.

  • A Career of Service

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by Melat Weldeselasie, a double major in Biology and Anthropology. Melat is a senior with a special interest in public health and human development work. Melat's most favorite research experience was population health research on the intersectionality of human trafficking and homelessness with a focus on Native American youth.

    This Circle will be centered on exploring what true service really means and what it looks like in the professional (real) world. We will explore the important role that non-for-profit organizations and NGOs play in health care both in the US and abroad and explore what makes a good NGO through case studies of already established and well-functioning NGOs. We will also work to understand the process that goes into establishing an NGO and the different aspects necessary to maintain an NGO that is dedicated to a social service. We will also discuss what a potential path to working with an NGO or starting one of our own could look like and steps that we can take now to make service a central part of our professional career.

  • Biological Origins in Folklore and Science Fiction

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018 on Tuesdays from 7:00-8:00 p.m.; Facilitated by Christine Lian, a GCD major. Christine is a senior who hopes to study Genetic Counseling in graduate school. Currently, Christine is part of a research team in the Cotner Lab to observe the relationship between gender and confidence in STEM fields.

    This Circle is continuing from Fall 2017 but is open to accepting new participants who can meet at the specified day and time. 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. If there is a particularly iconic story revolving around that week's folklore of choice (such as excerpts from Dracula when discussing vampires), we would read over the material or watch clips from movies. 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.

  • Discovering Industry: Investigating Demands in Industry for STEM Graduates

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by Jake Robinson, a GCD major. Jake's interests include genetic principles in relation to medical advancements, research on aging in place, and stem cell biology and has been involved in two research projects, each for one year. Jake plans on joining industry or potentially pursuing medicine.

    This Circle would accumulate information about career possibilities for STEM students who are open to different career paths but would like to hone in on a specific area in their final years in CBS. Potential activities in the Circle could include learning about what human resources looks for in a job application, researching opportunities with large employers in industry, and exploring the logistics of entrepreneurship in the sciences. A goal for this Circle is for participants to find options for internships or jobs for after senior year and beyond.

  • Exploring Countries & Cultures

    Meetings throughout Spring 2018 every other Wednesdays from 1:15-2:15 p.m.; Facilitated by Khaled Daifallah, a Biochemistry major with a Child Psychology minor. Khaled a pre-dental student and worked with children at the Washburn Center this past summer. Khaled also works in Dr. Parker's lab, which focuses on cancer research using cell culture and proteomics. Khaled loves soccer, ping pong, pool, swimming, and dentistry.

    This Circle is continuing from Fall 2017 but is open to accepting new participants who can meet at the specified day and time, every other week. We meet people of different backgrounds every day in our personal and work life. Curiosity makes us wonder why people act, speak, dress, and work the way they do. This Circle focuses on answering these questions by understanding cultures of different countries. Every other week, this Circle will focus on a specific country so that participants hopefully have a better insight into that country’s culture. The goals of this Circle include providing an understanding about different countries and enriching our diverse thinking.

  • Exploring Feminism and Marginalized Identities in Literature

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by Katherine Hill, a Biology, Psychology, and Spanish triple major. Katherine is interested in feminism, social justice, and especially in health inequities. Katherine plans to become a physician and will enter medical school next year.

    This Circle will read both fiction and non-fiction books that focus on themes surrounding feminism or other marginalized identities. Possible books include Hunger by Roxanne Gay, We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates and The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison. Every week, participants will be assigned a section of the book to read before coming to the meeting with a goal to finish a book every two to three weeks. Discussions in the meetings could involve thoughts on specific parts of the book, major themes, and connections to current events.

    Books will be provided for participants.

  • Exploring Paths to Medical Fields

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by Mai Elkarib, a biology major. Mai will be graduating this spring and applying for medical school. Mai has traveled to many countries including UAE and Sudan and was able to shadow doctors in Sudan. Mai is determined to not only become a doctor but also inspire others in the future to make a change. 


    This Circle will focus on tools that can help participants learn more about the path to different medical fields, including medical school, and ways to prepare for these paths. This Circle will explore topics such as building a resume, seeking out research opportunities, exploring tutoring or other study skills resources, and learning more about what is on the MCAT. One of the goals for this Circle is for participants to develop a plan for what they need to do for their future career path.

  • Food for Thought

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by Andres Rivera Cruz, a Biology major. Andres is from California and works in the Snell-Rood Lab, while also being a part of the DirecTrack Program for future educators. Andres' post-college career goal is to become a high school biology teacher and cross country/track coach.

    Each week, participants in this Circle will be encouraged to make a certain food, write down observations about the food, and learn about the science behind the food: What are the ingredients? How do the ingredients react? How can we use science to maximize taste? How do we keep food as fresh as possible in storage? The goals of this Circle include thinking more about the food we eat in a scientific way and bringing people together from all backgrounds to build appreciation for food in a social context.

  • Gap Year Planning

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by Andrew Norton, a GCD, Microbiology, and Neuroscience triple major. Andrew is a senior looking to take a gap year this summer that fits his experiences and strengths before attending medical school.

    Are you taking a gap year and are not sure what to do?  Many individuals who have planned a gap year or had some unforeseen circumstances occur are currently in the process of finding a gap year opportunity, refining application materials, and seeking out support to hold them accountable.  In this Circle, we will explore the many options, resources, and fields that soon-to-be graduates can pursue for a gap year experience. Together we can gain a better understanding of the opportunities for a gap year, explore ways to make our applications stronger, learn to connect to the employment world through various online and in-person mediums, and build a support group to help everyone feel comfortable in taking the next steps in their lives.

  • Grad Ready: Research and GRE Preparation

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by Alicia Wong, a Biochemistry major. Alicia transferred from Drake University as a sophomore and currently works as an undergraduate researcher in the Alejandro Lab. After graduating in Fall 2018, Alicia plans to pursue a joint JD/PhD degree.                      

    This Circle aims to prime highly-motivated CBS students on the journey toward applying for graduate school. We will begin by exploring research positions aligning with the scientific interests of participants. For students already working in a lab, we will explore potential scholarships, fellowships, and programs students can apply to, such as UROP, MSROP, or Directed Research. This Circle will also provide support to students during the graduate school application process by focusing on preparation for the GRE. This will include becoming familiar with the test format, scoring, and concepts, and completing practice questions related to various portions of the exam.

  • Interest in Osteopathic Medicine

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by Jonathan Evers, a Biochemistry major. Jonathan transferred into CBS in 2016 and will soon publish work in the field of Proteomics after two semesters of Directed Research. Jonathan currently volunteers at Maple Grove Hospital and is in the process of applying to medical school.

    With a new osteopathic medical school opening in Minnesota within the next 2 years, as well as the U's proximity to Des Moines University, the osteopathic option for medical school is an increasingly popular choice for pre-medicine college students. However, many students are not aware that this is an excellent alternative to the traditional allopathic branch. This Circle would focus on learning the differences between the Medical Doctor/Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degrees, exploring osteopathic colleges available nationwide that are accepting applications, learning about the distinct DO application process, and building a network for working with local physicians at nearby Metro hospitals to shadow current DO's.

  • Journal Club: Biology in Industry

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by Philip Leung, a Biochemistry and GCD major. Philip is interested in synthetic biology and protein engineering. He works in the Seelig Lab and has applied to graduate school.

    This Circle will focus on weekly discussions of applied and industry-related peer reviewed research articles in the biosciences, such as articles on GMOs, metabolic engineering, bioproducts, or pharmaceutical chemical biology. This Circle is a great opportunity to practice reading, evaluating, presenting, and discussing recently published research articles from leading journals to a multidisciplinary scientific audience. This is a very important skill in science, and it can be very fun and interesting as well. The goal of this Circle would be to have 2-3 people present a journal article each week, focusing on the significant findings, unique methods or experimental approaches, and relevance to other scientific fields.

  • Journal Club: Health and Neuroscience-Related Topics

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by David Begelman, a Neuroscience major.

    This Circle will focus on weekly discussions of health and neuroscience-related peer reviewed research articles. Every week an article within the fields of neuroscience, clinical health sciences, as well as neurodegenerative diseases will be picked, discussed, critiqued, and analyzed based on the figures and methods provided. This Circle will serve as a learning environment for individuals interested in developing better scientific reasoning skills as well as critical analysis of reading scientific papers. The goal of this Circle would be to engage and discuss 10 scientific papers during the spring semester.

  • MCAT Comprehensive

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by Emily Lara Dawra, a Neuroscience major. Emily transferred into CBS from California and has a background in behavioral neuroscience research and addiction studies. Emily intends to pursue an M.D. with the hope of eventually integrating her lab's research with modern medicine.

    In this Circle, we will cover one full "Content Category" each week from a simplified AAMC list of MCAT topics (10 content categories total, spanning biology to physics). Together, we will fill in the topics sheet to create a comprehensive study guide for the MCAT. Circle participants will also take turns leading mini-lectures (~15 min) on mnemonic tricks or memorization tips for a broad but potentially daunting topic of their choosing (e.g., Krebs cycle, Piaget's Theory of Development, Gas Laws, etc.). Circle participants should be able to leave the Circle at the end of the spring semester knowing the areas they should more seriously study (or what areas they do not need to study as much).

  • Medical School Application Preparation

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by Riley Wedan, a Neuroscience major with a minor in Health Psychology. Riley currently has a UROP in a psychiatry lab. Riley plans on taking the MCAT in March and applying to MD or MD-PhD programs starting in June.

    This Circle will discuss medical school options, look at course requirements for medical school, discuss how to select and apply to medical school, and study for the MCAT (for those planning to take it this spring or early summer). This Circle will be valuable because it will keep participants on track toward reaching their goals of getting into medical school. By the end of the semester, Circle participants should have a realistic list of medical schools that they plan on applying to in Summer 2018.

  • Policy Changes that Affect Future Physicians and Principal Investigators

    Weekly meetings throughout Spring 2018; Facilitated by Erin Nakagaki, a Biochemistry major. Erin is currently doing research in the Hendrickson Lab and works as a student assistant for the Continuing Dental Education department of the School for Dentistry. Erin is the Philippine Student Association's Advocacy Chair and a Multicultural Center of Academic Excellence Ambassador.

    This Circle will mainly be discussion-based and will focus on researching policies that could affect people who are pursuing careers in the sciences. We will discuss the reasoning behind policies and their implications. Possible topics could include how graduate students could have been affected by the proposed tax plan, how science professors are affected by policy changes and how they plan to approach these policy changes, or how professors in law, environment, or other departments think policy could affect STEM majors once we graduate and during our academic careers.