Health Scholars at the Mayo Clinic

This program is paused for Summer 2023. 

Modeled after the Rockswold Health Scholars Program at Hennepin County Medical Center, alumni doctors at the Mayo Clinic are thrilled to offer eight current St. Olaf students the opportunity to live together in Rochester while interning at the Mayo Clinic during the summer.

Program Philosophy

The two Health Scholars programs are made possible by the generosity of distinguished alumni. The Rockswold Health Scholars program and the Health Scholars at the Mayo Clinic program are designed to support students in their vocational discernment within healthcare, provide intensive internship opportunities to enhance their academic profiles and expand their professional networks. As a cohort internship program, students will be selected on their ability to contribute positively to living in community. Competitive students have demonstrated their commitment to serving others, strong communication and teamwork skills, and the ability to take initiative. Additionally, students will be assessed on their fit with specific research projects, based on coursework, lab, and other experiences. Preference is given to students with an academic profile that does not preclude admission to graduate or professional school, students who will be rising seniors, and students pursuing medicine (clinical research projects only).

PLEASE NOTE:  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this program was not able to run during the summers of 2020, 2021, and 2022. 

Past Program Details

  • Dates: Tuesday, May 30 – Friday, Aug. 4, ten weeks of hands-on experience
  • Deadline: Friday, February 10 at 11:59pm
  • Tracks: All students will participate in a research project.
  • Stipend of $4,000 paid to each student
  • Housing provided in Rochester, MN
  • Final project (paper, poster, presentation) to be determined by student and a Mayo Clinic faculty mentor
  • How to Apply (see below for details)

Tracks for 2019 (Tracks for 2023 TBD)


The goal of the research experience is to provide students with hands-on experience in clinical research either in surgery, oncology, or neurology/sleep medicine.

Colon Surgery Research Project: One student will be involved with a retrospective, case controlled and cohort study in surgery. The student will be exposed to clinical informatics on practice performance and outcomes, standardization and surgical outcomes including economics, and outcomes research involving National Benchmarks and National Database.

Oncology Research Project: One student will be involved with selection of a retrospective clinical project in sarcomas. The student will be exposed to IRB, statistics, chart abstraction, and analysis of data for preparation for presentation and publication.

Sleep Neurology Research Project: One student will be involved with a research project related to sleep neurology, with a strong preference for selection of students with a major in neuroscience and/or psychology, and a planned future career interest in these or related fields. The student will be exposed to sleep neurology and analyze data for preparation for presentation and publication. It is expected that the student commit approximately 75% or more of their time primarily to research activities during their summer appointment in the sleep laboratory.

Thoracic Surgery Research Project: One student will be involved in a retrospective clinical research project analyzing data we have prospectively collected on surgical treatment of thoracic surgical diseases over the past 30 years. The student would be exposed to formulation of hypotheses, preparation of IRB research proposals, patient chart data abstraction, and analysis of data for publication and presentation. The goal for the summer would be to have a paper that could be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, and possible oral presentation at thoracic surgical meeting.

Biostatistics Collaborative Research

The goal of the biostatistics collaborative research is for students to be exposed to biostatistics in clinical research, including translating clinical hypotheses to statistical hypotheses, determining appropriate methods to describe and analyze data, programming with R software, and communication of research results. This is a biostatistics emphasis for students obtaining or considering obtaining a concentration in Statistics and Data Science. Students must have completed the prerequisite STAT 272 Statistical Modeling.

Anesthesiology Research Project: One student will work with a faculty biostatistician and their team doing collaborative research in anesthesia and perioperative medicine. Examples of recent studies by this group include: (i) assessing the association between surgery with anesthesia and subsequent cognitive decline in older adults, (ii) predicting risk of death among pediatric patients awaiting liver transplantation to potentially improve organ allocation policies, and (iii) assessing the association between platelet transfusion during surgery and subsequent acute outcomes in the hospital.  We use observational data from Mayo Clinic patients to improve knowledge of disease and evaluate possible therapeutic strategies.

Ovarian Cancer Research Project: One student will work with a faculty biostatistician and their team doing research in ovarian cancer genetics, particularly focused on X chromosome inactivation. This will involve using genetic data of multiple types from Mayo Clinic ovarian cancer patients to improve knowledge of disease mechanisms. Projects will use the R programming language.

Computational Genomics Research Project:  One student will work with a faculty biostatistician and their team conducting research in areas relevant to statistical genetics and bioinformatics at Mayo Clinic.  Potential topics include genetic epidemiology of complex diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancer), diagnostic assays using next-generation sequencing, and multi-omic data analysis.

Read descriptions of the summer research projects and experience, written by the summer 2016 interns.

Students will work with a faculty mentor at Mayo Clinic. Projects/mentors for summer 2019 will be:

  • David Larson, MD, MBA – Professor of Surgery Mayo Clinic
  • Scott Okuno, MD – Professor of Oncology Mayo Clinic
  • Erik St. Louis, MD, MS – Associate Professor of Neurology Mayo Clinic
  • K. Robert Shen, MD – Associate Professor of Surgery Mayo Clinic and Mark Allen, MD – Professor of Surgery Mayo Clinic
  • Phillip J. Schulte, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Biostatistics Mayo Clinic
  • Stacey J. Winham, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of Biostatistics Mayo Clinic
  • Nicholas B. Larson, Ph.D., M.S. – Assistant Professor of Biostatistics Mayo Clinic

Overview of the Program

St. Olaf alumni at Mayo Clinic have established a research internship program that provides current St. Olaf students an unparalleled hands-on experience at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Healthcare is undergoing transformative changes. Understanding how the healthcare team interacts and collaborates to serve the needs of the patient is critical in order to provide the best quality of care. Students will be exposed to how Mayo Clinic provides comprehensive integrated care through weekly seminars and exposure to healthcare innovation/administration. In addition, students will conduct directed research projects.

A unique aspect of this program includes the opportunity for selected participants to live together in the spirit of support and mutuality. Community living is intended to foster supportive relationships in an environment of reflection and intentionality. Students will work together to make decisions about grocery shopping, meals, upkeep of the living space, and social activities. As part of their commitment to learning from and with each other, participants will be expected to take part in a weekly community meal and community conversation.

How to Apply

  • Current Junior or Sophomore or (Class of 2023 or 2024)
  • Good academic standing (minimum GPA of 3.0, not on academic probation or academically dismissed according to the Registrar’s Office and Dean of Students Office)
  • Students selected for an interview will be asked to complete the Consent and Disclosure Form
Desired Qualifications

The selection committee will consider the following:

Application Deadline and Process

This program’s application and interview process will be joined with the selection process for the Health Scholars Program at the Mayo Clinic. Professors Mary Walczak and Greg Muth will served on the selection committee. The Piper Center Pre-Health Coach will also be present for the interviews.

Students will apply through a video, Handshake, and a Google Form (see details below) by Friday, Feb. 11 at 11:59 p.m. All three components are required for a complete application. 

  1. Two-Minute Video
    • Create a two-minute (or less) video addressing the following questions:
      • Tell us more about your interest in your top choice internship placement. Why do you believe this is the best internship placement for you, and how did you go about making that decision? What do you know about the HCMC, and how does this knowledge contribute to your choice?
    • Students should consider this a formal video. Students are strongly encouraged to use the Video Recording Room in the DiSCO to create their videos. You can make reservations here. Students may also use their computers or phones, but they should make every effort to present themselves professionally wherever they create their video.
    • Upload your video to YouTube. You may make the video Public or Unlisted. If it is Unlisted, only people with the link will be able to view it. In your Google Form Application, we will ask you to provide the link to your video so the selection committee can see it. We will not share your videos with anyone else. For more information on YouTube and privacy settings, please click here.
  2. Resume and Unofficial Transcript
    • In Handshake, upload your resume (one page) and your unofficial transcript (access SIS and save as a .pdf) and apply for the position.
    • Fill out the Online Application (coming later this year)
      • This form includes essay questions, faculty references, rank ordering of internship positions, and space to provide your YouTube video link.

Selected candidates will be invited to interview. Interviews will be 15 minutes in length.

Questions? Contact Mary Walczak (, Faculty Supervisor and Associate Dean for Natural Sciences and Mathematics, RNS 302A or Dana Rechtzigel (, Associate Director, Piper Center, Career Development and Coaching (Pre-Health) Tomson 270.