Student Becomes the Master

A passion for research, kindled by undergraduate studies in Criminal Justice and Chemistry, shaped a path for success for alumna Dr. Katelyn Bruno—thanks in large part to early mentorship and support at Sam Houston State University.

In 2009, Bruno was 20 years old and dreaming of becoming a scientist in SHSU professor Ilona Petrikovic’s Chemistry lab. Now, 10 years later, she runs her own laboratory as an instructor of medicine and research associate at the Mayo Clinic Cardiovascular Medicine Department in Florida under the direction of another mentor, Dr. DeLisa Fairweather. She also works as an adjunct faculty instructor at the University of North Florida in the Department of Biology.

“I honestly do not believe I would be where I am today if I would have attended any other university,” Bruno said. “The opportunities that I was given at Sam were ones that my friends who attended other colleges did not get the chance to do because there was not a school that was as committed to focusing on each student’s journey.”

Bruno’s own journey started when she was an Honors College undergraduate.

“The Honors College and the Chemistry Department not only prepared me academically to attend the number one public health university in the world and be successful, but is also the only reason that I was able to even be considered as an applicant,” Bruno said.

According to Bruno, it was not her grades or GRE score that made her a competitive candidate for the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, but her involvement in research early in her undergraduate education that showed admissions that she would be a capable scholar.

“My advice if you want to pursue a career in research or medicine is to get involved early and become passionate about what you are doing,” Bruno said. “Your passion for your future career and work will show through in a personal statement and interview.”

Bruno’s passion ultimately earned her two Elliot T. Bowers Honor’s College Scholarships and a third scholarship from the department of Chemistry, which resulted in her receiving a full ride to pursue her education.

Today, she uses that passion for medicine and research to serve in multiples roles.

“At the University of North Florida, I teach a General Biology Laboratory class and mentor students. At the Mayo Clinic, I serve as the primary supervisor and mentor 16 students and employees ranging from high schoolers to fellows and technicians,” Bruno said. “One amazing part of my job, is that in science you have to present your work to your peers to get feedback and expand your knowledge, so I am able to travel all over the world to present my research in poster and oral presentations.”

Another aspect of her job that she loves is the freedom, flexibility, and that each day offers new discoveries.

“I love being able to mentor the next generation of scientists and physicians,” Bruno said. “I love the open-ended, constant exploring and questioning. I love being able to make a difference even if it is only in a small way.”

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