Michael J. Oneal
How does your Mayo Graduate School education compare with previous education that you have received at other institutions?
The focus of education is on human disease, rather than agricultural genetics. Course and lab work are comparable to that of Iowa State University, but the variety and quality of the core facilities are more accessible.
What opportunities have you been introduced to since being at Mayo Graduate School? I've had greater exposure to the wider scientific community, particularly through conferences advertised in the department and our lab's grant from the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics, which fosters collaboration between Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota labs. I've also had opportunities to build leadership skills through participation in the Graduate Student Association.
Why did you choose Mayo Graduate School?
Of the graduate schools I was offered admittance to, this one had the combination of being an excellent research institute that was also within driving distance to my hometown — nearly all of my family still lives there. The stipend structure also ensured I would be able to work in the lab that interested me most, rather than whichever lab had extra money on my matriculating year.
How would you describe the atmosphere of Mayo Clinic?
The atmosphere of the clinic is very much rooted in its sense of personal history, particularly that of the Mayo brothers and their ethos regarding patient care. As it pertains to Mayo Graduate School, that ethos is reflected in the research programs of the faculty, trying to address real and important problems in human medicine.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to either pursue a postdoctoral fellowship continuing in the gene therapy field or shift back into agricultural genetics in academia or industry.
With what activities are you involved in Rochester?
Nothing formal, just a gaming group with other employees that meets about once a month.
How does Rochester differ from your hometown? College community?
Compared to my hometown, it's actually a city! Adel has only about 3,500 people and one stoplight. Compared to my college community in Ames, the demographics are night and day. Ames' population is mostly undergraduate students during the school year, and most of its economy caters to them. This is a stark contrast to the approximately 150 Mayo students in a sea of professional, middle-class families. Still, the overwhelming influence of the clinic on the local economy results in a lot of the same perks enjoyed by students in Ames, like discounts at shops and free busing.