Last fall, in Teague’s Bioinformatics and Big Data course, Rusnak sequenced, assembled and annotated the genome of an uncommon bacterium that is potentially related to hospital-acquired infections and colony collapse in bee hives, Teague said, then uploaded his work to the National Center for Biotechnology Information database for access by researchers around the world.
Rusnak, who applied for and received a Student Research Grant funded by Stout University Foundation, hopes to continue his bacteriophage research in graduate school. He also presented his work at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in Eau Claire in April.
He started doing research as a first-year student. Skills he has learned include molecular cloning, sample preparation, inventory and record keeping, how to make a standard curve, how to apply and use math to solve real-world problems and much more.
He said his access to professors, mentors, labs and equipment at UW-Stout have “exceeded my expectations.” Core courses in his major have included semesterlong research projects. UW-Stout has three times more labs than classrooms, part of the university’s applied learning focus.
“Research has greatly helped to solidify the often difficult concepts we learn in the classroom and move them to a tangible space. Research is the space where you can observe theory come to life,” Rusnak said, noting he enjoys the collaborative process with Teague and other students. “The adviser-advisee relationship has been one of the most important relationships I have and has shaped the scientist I am today.”