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Lab partners Chase Ward, Tait Johannsen and Sam Dooyema
Courtesy: USF Athletics

USF Student-Athletes Participate in BRIN Research

Courtesy: USF Athletics
          Release: 08/09/2012
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Eight University of Sioux Falls' student-athletes concluded their 2012 Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN) Summer Research Program with the poster presentation and convocation ceremony last Friday held at the University of South Dakota. Billy Brockmueller (XC/track), Sam Dooyema (football), Adam Heck (football), Tait Johannsen (football), Joel Martens (football), Brian Schenavar (track), Naomi Tesar (softball) and Chase Ward (XC/track) show us the true meaning of "student-athlete" with their ability to balance commitments in the classroom and on the field of play beyond any ordinary standard.

"It has been a joy working with the student-athletes this summer," said USF BRIN mentor Chad Birger. "The fact that so many student-athletes were chosen for these competitive research appointments demonstrates the quality of student that is being recruited by our athletics department."

To participate in the 10-week program, applicants are evaluated by the South Dakota BRIN Undergraduate Fellowship Selection Committee. Each committee member evaluates the applications individually and then the final selection is made at a group meeting where all applications are discussed.  Selection criteria includes but is not limited to the applicant's year in school, GPA, academic discipline, references and a personal statement.

"The BRIN research gives science majors a very real taste of what research is like at the graduate level," said junior Biology major Dooyema.  "We are blessed to have the opportunity to participate in meaningful research right here at USF."

"Sometimes concepts discussed in class can be difficult to relate to, but BRIN helps close that gap between the classroom and the lab," said Johannsen. "It was pretty exciting to be able to take some of the things I have learned in the past couple of years and apply them to a real-life scenario." 

USF student-athletes explored compelling topics spanning from the behavior of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (antibiotic-resistant bacteria) to the study of quantum tunneling. 

After dedicating more than 4,000 hours of summer vacation to research, the group shared some insight on their topics and the value of their experience in the program.

<a class= Brockmueller and Heck explored the role "quantum physics" can play in brain activity. The objective of their project was to show that modern or quantum physics could play a role in brain activity.

"Based upon classical physics, like Newton discovering gravity or F=ma, everything is pre-determined meaning we live in a clock-like universe," said Heck. "So essentially, if you think about it, every decision you make is not really a decision but was pre-determined to happen possibly millions or billions of years ago based on the collisions and interactions between particles in a star or far off places in the universe." 

"By solving the Schrodinger wave equation for a potential barrier such as a cell membrane, writing a program to compute the possibility of transmission, and studying the physical structure of the neuron, we have come a long way in answering this question," said Brockmueller. "Though we do not yet have a definite answer, there is much promise in further research."

Second year BRIN student, Dooyema partnered with teammate Tait Johannsen and Chase Ward to analyze
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a notoriously antibiotic-resistant bacteria that is known for infections in cystic fibrosis patients, burn victims, and people who work in extreme environments (i.e. underwater labs, space stations). <span class=

"Our objective was to determine the metabolic process of the bacteria when placed in aerobic and anaerobic conditions," explained Ward.

Although many admitted it was difficult at times to balance summer workouts with eight hour days in the lab, the students couldn't overemphasize the positive experience they had.

"I genuinely enjoyed going to work every day working with my lab partners and mentor, Dr. Bill Soeffing.  Not only did we accomplish and learn a lot scientifically, we genuinely had a blast every single day working with each other.  There was not a dull moment in our lab."

For more information about Brin, please visit

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