Marshfield Clinic Research Institute concluded its 2023 Summer Research Internship Program with a hybrid symposium featuring the work of five university students from across the nation who are considering careers in research.

Pictured from left to right, Jeff VanWormer, Ph.D., director, Summer Research Internship Program; Tyler Staup; Katherine Morrissey; Seth Langreck, M.A.; and Saige Tichy. Presenting virtually: Scotia Dettweiler and Matthew Wieckhorst.​

The program, which began in 1974, enables students to put their education into practice as they work side-by-side with scientists and clinician-researchers w​ho are experts in their fields. 

“We are deeply thankful for the program's continued leadership under the direction of Dr. Jeff VanWormer and our invaluable mentors," said Jennifer Meece, Ph.D., chief research officer and executive director of the Research Institute. “The dedication of our research scientists to this incredible program and the strong support from the donors is the reason it has endured for close to 50 years."

Summer projects are tailored to each student and are related to ongoing research within Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Presentations were made Aug. 9 in Froehlke Auditorium, Laird Center for Medical Research, Marshfield Medical Center. The event was part of the Scientific Seminar Series and can be viewed at this archive of past presentations.

“We are incredibly grateful for the organizations and individuals who continue to support the Summer Research Internship Program," said VanWormer, program director. “Thanks to our amazing supporters, this program is able to continue to provide a unique learning experience for students, as well as to advance the research being conducted at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute."

The 10-week, full-time working program matches students with a research scientist on an independent project. The students contribute to many aspects of the research process. In addition, they attend an Institutional Review Board meeting, lead a journal club session, and prepare an abstract describing their research, as well as preparing and delivering an oral presentation of their research at the annual Research Symposium in August.

Presentations, in order of appearance, were as follows:

Trends in preoperative risk stratification and survival in patients undergoing pancreatic resection. Saige Tichy is an undergraduate student from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She was mentored by Jessica Wernberg, M.D., and Catherine Mayer, D.O., as part of General Surgery. This research examined clinical scores identifying patient surgical risk based on comorbidities and clinical presentation, and their association with one-year and median survival from the date of surgery.

An assessment of farm families' lived realities raising children on farms: Scotia Dettweiler is a law student from Vermont Law and Graduate School. She was mentored by Florence Becot, Ph.D., as part of the National Farm Medicine Center. Their study provides us with a better understanding of the factors that shape farm parents' child care decisions and how child care intersects with safety, family and community wellbeing, and farm business viability. Dettweiler and Becot conducted an assessment of 860 farm families raising children in 47 states.

Keeping children safe on the farm: What kinds of solutions do farm parents want?  Katherine Morrissey is a graduate student from the University of Vermont. She was mentored by Florence Becot, Ph.D., as part of the National Farm Medicine Center. Morrissey and Becot have explored solutions that would make it easier for farm parents to work on the farm while keeping their children safe. Their findings, based on qualitative and quantitative data, highlighted the importance of addressing social and economic conditions in agriculture to ease the adoption of farm safety practices.

Diseases of Despair in rural and farm families in Wisconsin: Matthew Wieckhorst is a graduate student from Grand Valley State University, Michigan. He was mentored by Bryan Weichelt, Ph.D., and Jeff VanWormer, Ph.D., as part of the National Farm Medicine Center and Center for Clinical Epidemiology & Population Health. This study examined associations between Diseases of Despair (e.g., alcohol abuse, substance use, and suicidal ideation/attempt) and farm/rural residency in households with children.

Use of EHR data to produce estimates of Influenza vaccine effectiveness: Tyler Staup is a graduate student from the University of Pittsburgh. He was mentored by Joshua Petrie, Ph.D., as part of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology & Population Health. Staup explored the feasibility of utilizing electronic health record data to measure flu vaccine effectiveness. Results showed that complete records and other important covariates can be used to estimate the efficacy of the influenza vaccine.