that the concerns many people have for possible corruption in our state legislature are unfounded. I learned that a majority of the legislators are there to do the right thing for the citizens of South Dakota and protect our Constitution. I have gained a stronger respect for our legislative process and those lawmakers who uphold that process.” Sienna Wessel, a senior majoring in biology and environmental science, completed a volunteer internship for the Nature Conservancy in summer 2017. She continues to work for the Game, Fish and Parks Department as a seasonal habitat technician. Wessel said: “This summer, I started out with two volunteer positions and ended up with one paid technician job and one internship, which took me through the prairie of northeastern South Dakota all the way to the Black Hills. Both agencies invited me to come back as an employee next year. Working for two different habitat conservation agencies gave me insight into different methodologies for restoration and land management. I also learned about the unique challenges that each organization faces in regards to funding and public engagement.” David Hales, a history major, completed a public history internship at Fort Sisseton State Park in northeastern South Dakota. He worked as an archivist and museum guide at the fort, which was built in 1864. He was supervised by Melinda Quade, another graduate of NSU’s public history program, who has been working every summer at the fort since completing her first internship there in 2014. Zack North, also a history major, completed a public history internship at NSU’s Williams Library this past summer. North worked with NSU Archivist Sarah Jones to catalog and create finding aids for Northern’s extensive fine arts collection, which chronicles NSU’s theater and music productions back to its founding in 1902. Alison Byrd, a biology major, spent the summer as an intern at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Neb. She worked with a variety of sea animals, including sharks, rays and sea turtles. As an intern, Byrd was involved in a variety of activities, both behind the scenes and with the public. One of her favorite activities was to help draw blood from the sea turtles. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in marine biology after graduation. Dixon is president and CEO of UNeMed Corporation, which works with faculty, students and staff of the University of Nebraska Medical Center to help commercialize innovative ideas. “One way we describe ourselves is [that] we’re the people between the lab coats and the suit coats,” said Dixon, who was in Aberdeen this fall as a keynote speaker for the Create ‘N’ Festival. When faculty, students or staff come up with a new discovery, it’s UNeMed Corporation’s job to protect it, Dixon said. That includes filing patents and working with companies to develop that technology into a product. Dixon works with a wide variety of products, including medical devices, therapeutics and software. Instead of getting specialized in one area, as is often the case with science, Dixon gets to be more of a generalist. “I like the variety of that,” he said. “It gives me the opportunity to play in a lot of different sandboxes and have a chance to talk and work with people who are doing amazing things and really changing the way medicine is deployed.” Dixon said he was honored to speak at Create ‘N’: A Festival Celebrating Entrepreneurship, Creativity, Innovation and Workforce, held on Sept. 19 at NSU. He was also happy for the opportunity to come back to visit Northern. “I was really excited to get back to campus, just to see it all again,” he said. Growing up, Dixon was familiar with NSU since his parents, Ivan and Elizabeth (Strutz) Dixon, are both alumni. He chose Northern because he received the Presidential Scholarship and because he felt comfortable on a smaller campus where he could easily interact with professors. At NSU, Dixon ran track, served as president of Jerde Hall, and participated in Student Senate. The Presho, South Dakota native was a double major in biology and chemistry, graduating in 1998. While at NSU, he conducted research with his advisor and mentor, Dr. Lenore Koczon, a professor in organic chemistry, which helped give him the confidence to enter a research facility in pursuit of his career. Dixon said he also gained confidence from social interaction at Northern, a small campus that was like a community. “It had a big, family feel to it,” he said. “You got to know everyone.” Dixon’s advice to current students it to take advantage of the opportunities they have at NSU. “You’re focused on your studies,” he said, “but there are so many things outside of that available, that if you’re able to take advantage of them, it can open up so many more doors.” Tessa Durnin, a biology and environmental science major with a certificate in organismal biology, was the recipient of two prestigious awards this year. She received an Instars Fellowship from the Society for Freshwater Science that provided support for her to join over 800 freshwater scientists from around the world at the society’s annual meeting in Raleigh, N.C. While at the conference, Durnin presented the results of her research conducted at Northern; her presentation was titled “Effects of Prescribed Burns on Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera) Communities.” Durnin also presented the results of her research work in this area during the National Science Foundation South Dakota EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) RII Track 1 site visit at McCrory Gardens in Brookings in September. The second award Durnin received is the Mary E. Baylor Memorial Scholarship from the South Dakota Ornithologists’ Union, a prestigious and competitive scholarship given annually to one undergraduate student attending a South Dakota college or university. Durnin is the second NSU student in the past three years to receive this award, following in the footsteps of 2015 recipient and NSU alumna Christina Renz. After completing her degree at Northern, Durnin is planning to attend graduate school to continue her work in environmental research. Taylor Bice, an NSU senior with a double major in human services and English, was Alumni Spotlight: Michael Dixon Northern State University alumnus Dr. Michael Dixon is in the business of getting research and technological discoveries from the lab to the marketplace where they benefit public health. Internships continued… Student Success