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Meet Ellen Kiser

Ellen Kiser
Date: Thursday, September 5, 2019

Graduate program: Biomedical Science (Microbiology)

Undergraduate institution: University of North Dakota

Hometown: Juda, Wisconsin

Why did you choose the University of Iowa to pursue your graduate degree?

When I interviewed at the University of Iowa, I knew it was the right fit. The faculty and students were extremely welcoming and kind. They made me feel like I belonged here. Furthermore, the research being done in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology is at the forefront of the field and was highly intriguing to me.

What type of research are you performing?

I am a member of Mary Wilson’s lab, and we examine the interactions between Leishmania spp. parasites and their mammalian hosts.

What do you hope to do after you earn your degree?

I plan to either teach or work in science policy. I hope to emphasize the importance of science to non-scientists. Basic research is invaluable and we, as scientists, must make an effort to promote an understanding of science.

What is something that surprised you about the University of Iowa or your graduate program?

The outstanding collaborative nature of the faculty and students in the biomedical sciences was surprising and refreshing.

What is your favorite part about being a graduate student?

My favorite part of graduate school is the family that I now have because I joined a lab. My lab mates are wonderful people, and I look forward to talking with them every day. They are supportive and always willing to help out with an experiment. I can always count on them to make me smile!

Who is your biggest role model and why?

This question is always very difficult for me, and it is very hard for me to choose just one person. As far as a historical or well-known role model goes, Amelia Earhart has always been inspirational to me. She tore down barriers in everything she did. Her quote, “The most effective way to do it, is to do it” really resonates with me. 
My biggest personal role model is my grandmother, Eileen. She taught me to be courageous and to fight for what I believe in. She also taught me to find the beauty in the small things.

What are some of your personal interests?

I like to stay active! I enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, and CrossFit. I am currently training for an off-road triathlon.

A piece of advice for incoming graduate students.

When you are looking for a lab, be sure to choose the one that is right for you. Of course, the research the lab is doing is important in your decision, but the lab culture and the way the members interact is also important. You will spend the next five years with those people so make sure they are awesome!