The Researcher: Meet Katelyn Graber ’18

Katelyn Graber '18

Katelyn Graber ’18 is a biology major from Hurley, South Dakota.

Q. You recently completed a genetic counseling internship experience. Can you tell us about it? What were some of your chief duties? What was an average day like? What did you take away from the experience?

A. I had the best experience! As a genetic counseling intern for Avera Health, I was able to learn about genetic disorders, mutated gene risks, genetic testing options, and genetic counseling as a potential future occupation. Each day, I observed how the genetic counselors interacted with patients, took note of what information they told their patients, and worked on an online pedigree project called Progeny. My time was split between two units — the Avera Maternal Fetal Medicine Unit and the Avera Cancer Institute. The two genetic counselors that I worked with were so kind and welcoming, and I can’t thank them, as well as the other medical professionals, enough for the experience. I was able to form relationships in the hospital and gain genetic knowledge to help guide my future career decisions.

Q. Looking ahead to after graduation, what’s your dream job?

A. I’m deciding on my future aspirations, but I know my dream job would include a setting where I can express my passion for science, interact with others and continue to learn from my colleagues. Both genetic counseling and researching/teaching provide opportunities to do just that! Additionally, I love South Dakota and hope to remain in the area so I can stay close to my family and friends.

Q. You studied abroad in Greece! Best memory from the experience?

A. Some of my best college memories were made when I traveled to Greece over J-term of 2016. Aside from embracing a new culture and indulging in a lot of gelato, my favorite memory from the experience was in Nafplio, a beautiful city along the bluest waters I have ever seen. After staying at a quaint hotel owned by three brothers, we were invited into the home of one of the brothers before heading to our Here we picked the best tasting oranges from the family’s orange grove and made traditional Greek cookies. I was so humbled by their hospitality and will never forget the beautiful countryside of Nafplio!

Q. You’ve said “Biochemistry” taught by Dr. Mark Larson has been your favorite class so far. Can you tell us about it?

A. The course work challenged me to dig deeper into not only lectures and labs, but also the textbook and other researchers’ work. With some background knowledge in various areas of biology from my other classes, biochemistry seemed to make everything connect. It is during this class that I began to think about pursuing a career in research and teaching at a university like Augustana. Dr. Larson shares his passion for science, and he truly inspired me to live a life of continual learning. I was definitely surprised by my interest in the topics, but I am so grateful to have taken the class. Plus, it led me to appreciate chemistry a whole lot more than I had before!

Q. Most influential person during your time at AU?

A. If I have to choose just one, I would say my favorite professor is my advisor, Libby King. Never have I met someone with a bigger heart! Libby is so wowed by science, and I love her enthusiasm and selfless nature. Multiple times I have heard her exclaim in the lab, “Oh my goodness. Can you believe this? Everyone come look at what I am seeing in the microscope!” Needless to say, her excitement is contagious. Throughout my Viking journey, she has provided me with endless support, encouragement, and guidance — the true Augustana Advantage.

Q. You are the Augustana Student Association (ASA) president for 2017-18. Can you share what inspired you to run for the position, and what some of the goals you and your vice president, Luke Hurley, are hoping to achieve?

A. I am so honored and thrilled to serve Augustana as ASA president, alongside Luke Hurley as vice president. In the past three years, I have been a senator on ASA and have enjoyed the friendships and leadership opportunities that have come from it, though I was not inspired to run for ASA president until my peers began to encourage me. Hearing such kind words from students I admire sparked my interest in running. Once my highly esteemed friend, Luke Hurley, consented to run for vice president, I knew we had to take a shot! Together, we make a great team and truly desire to further enhance the possibilities for everyone at Augie. Since being elected, Luke and I are hoping to re-evaluate the core values to see how they can best reflect Augustana today. We are also hoping to partner with other campus organizations and professors to improve sustainability on campus. Additionally, we are looking to re-locate ASA meetings to the Froiland Science Complex in order to provide a more open venue for students, administrators and faculty to attend if they wish to do so. Our new President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has expressed much interest in working with students, and we couldn’t be more excited to hear her ideas, as well as the thoughts of students and faculty.