On February 28, the St. Catherine University Innovation Scholars team presented their project recommendations to Neurotype, an early-stage medical company affiliated with Medical Alley.
The interdisciplinary team consisted of four St. Kate’s students nominated by faculty to participate in Innovation Scholars, a program designed to provide Minnesota private college and university undergraduate students with hands-on opportunities to engage in research. Innovation Scholars aims to foster critical thinking and problem-solving skills by incorporating research projects, interdisciplinary teams, and industry partners, including Mayo Clinic and early-stage companies in Medical Alley.
The St. Kate’s team consisted of:
- Isabel Honzay ’24 (economics, public policy)
- Naddi Jillo ’23 (biology, chemistry minor)
- Elsa Joly ’23 (economics, business administration minor)
- Anneke van Oosterom ’24 (biology, data science)
The team was led by Augsburg University MBA student Caren Shank. Campus mentors included:
- Kurt Olson, PhD; associate professor, biology
- John Pellegrini, PhD; professor, biology
- Kellie Agrimson, PhD; assistant professor, biology
- Kristine West, PhD; Endowed Professor in the Sciences; associate professor, economics
- Sarah Rand, PhD; associate professor, business administration
Through collaboration across different areas of expertise and skill sets, the interdisciplinary team was able to develop creative ideas for their Innovation Scholars project. Jillo said, “Having students from different disciplines added balance, especially when it came to topics that one would know more about than another.”
Although the team conducted research for a scientific company, they were surprised to learn that their work involved more marketing research, a project that challenged them to build real-time marketing skills on top of their respective fields.
The students also found that their St. Kate’s coursework helped them with their research. “I think St. Kate’s has prepared us really well for working on interdisciplinary projects … foundations for our success have been built in our classes,” said van Oosterom, who thanks the team’s faculty mentors for their support and guidance.
The team of students played to each other's strengths and backgrounds while working together as a group, and their hard work and dedication paid off, as noted by their mentors and advisors throughout the process.
“Besides having exceptional academic qualifications, these students brought experience in entrepreneurship, data science, academic research, and previous work as teaching assistants,” said Olson, one of the St. Kate’s mentors. “We had student-athletes, an international student, and students with multiple previous business internships. These students worked exceptionally well with minimal faculty guidance needed.”
Shaping the future
As the St. Kate’s students conducted extensive research on their assigned project from November to February, they combined their respective passions and fields of study into a presentation they delivered to industry professionals.
The students developed a commercialization plan, including financial projections, top market segments, and a deep analysis of the ideal customer’s wants and needs. The final presentation symposium hosted various other Innovation Scholars and industry partners, including Neurotype CEO Scott Burwell, PhD.
“When I was placed with St. Kate’s students for the Innovation Scholars program, I had high expectations from them because of how well I associate St. Kate’s education with good outcomes,” said Burwell. “One thing I enjoy about working with students from St. Kate’s is that they are consistently proving themselves above and beyond basic project requirements — they do not shy from rolling up their sleeves and digging into the data to better understand the problem and find unique solutions.
Burwell also intends to utilize their research into the future. “These commercialization plans, like the one they developed for us, are a very good resource for us to use as the company continues to apply for federally-funded research grants and seek investor capital.”