Ara C. DiCostanzo

How does Mayo education compare to previous education that you have received at other institutions?

Amazing. I've learned so much here. There is a big difference between Mayo and a large public university in the accessibility and quality of learning resources (especially mentors). Here, the environment is very collaborative and welcoming. Everyone is willing to teach you a new lab technique or offer advice on your career plans, no matter how busy they might be. In a large university, it can be difficult to interact with faculty and receive helpful advice because the needs of the graduate students usually take precedence and faculty do not have time to address the large population of undergraduate students.

What opportunities have you been introduced to since being at Mayo?

The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program has offered weekly research faculty seminars, immunology faculty seminars and an immunology course. Through the IMSD "My Story" series, I have met faculty from various departments and leaned how they came to Mayo. I have discussed my M.D.-Ph.D. application with various mentors and received advice on how to strengthen it. In lab, I have learned immunology research techniques and how molecular research is conducted.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic over other medical institutions?

I was impressed by the quality of care my brother had received here as a patient, and I wanted to experience Mayo excellence for myself. As I learned more about the cooperative research environment, I became certain that Mayo fit my personal aspirations for research and would offer me a valuable summer research experience.

What is your program like? What sorts of projects/workshops have you done?

SURF is full-time laboratory research supplemented by seminars. In addition, I've attended informational sessions on M.D. and M.D.-Ph.D. careers.

How would you describe the atmosphere of Mayo Clinic?

Welcoming and supportive. Everyone does everything they can to offer advice and help you succeed in your goals. Teamwork is evident in every aspect of Mayo and it allows for successful faculty and students who truly enjoy their work.

What is your everyday life like in Rochester?

I spend most of the day in the lab. In the evenings, I work out, work on my applications, chat with friends, or go to the Twin Cities for other activities.

What are your plans for the future?

I'd like to pursue an M.D.-Ph.D. My research interests include immunology and mitochondrial diseases.

If you could describe Mayo in one word, what would it be?


With what activities are you involved in Rochester?

Working out, photography (a hobby of mine).

How does Rochester differ from your hometown? College community?

It's much smaller, much closer knit, welcoming, with a small-town feel. The Twin Cities and the University of Minnesota are much larger and people are more distant.

Nov. 11, 2010