Mayo Innovation Scholars Program

The Mayo Innovation Scholars Program (MISP) offers an opportunity for selected undergraduate students with academic background in any of the natural sciences, nursing, economics, management or media studies, mathematics, or with other relevant experience to evaluate projects submitted to the Mayo Clinic Ventures, the arm of Mayo responsible for evaluating potential business opportunities for discoveries and inventions created by Mayo Clinic physicians and researchers. This program is an initiative between a select group of Minnesota Private Colleges and the Mayo Clinic, with funding through the Medtronic Foundation.

A team of four students will represent St. Olaf College this year in the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program. The project team will be comprised of students representing a variety of science and economics backgrounds who demonstrate strong analytical and communication skills and success as an effective team member. The Interim experience will be offered through the Biology 395 course, taught by Dr. Kevin Crisp in St. Olaf Biology Department, and the student team will also be mentored by an MBA graduate student.

The MISP exposes students to the multitude of dimensions involved in bringing an idea to the marketplace — science, medicine, economics, business, marketing, bioethics — with real innovations and
discoveries in real time. The program’s three main objectives are:

• To assist Mayo Clinic in the assessment of new products and innovations in development;
• To provide research opportunities for undergraduate science and business students;
• To provide leadership development opportunities for graduate students.

By providing Mayo Clinic with in-depth reports and analyses, students gain intellectual and research experience in diverse fields of science, medicine and health care delivery, including molecular and cell
biology, physiology, clinical diagnostics, surgery, patient education and kinesiology. Students also learn about patents, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship as well as financial and market analyses. Each team is also charged with considering the ethics of their project and discussing ethical dilemmas and concerns. Alumni frequently report that the program opens their eyes to new career pathways and that the MISP plays a prominent role in interviews for employment, graduate school and medical school.

Learning to work as a member of a multidisciplinary team, where each individual has something to bring
and something to learn, is an essential skill facilitated by the MISP. These interdisciplinary experiences cast
students as both experts and learners within and outside their major fields of study, complementing
college classroom and laboratory experiences with the opportunities and limitations of real discovery.
Additionally, the program fosters new interactions and collaborations across disciplinary boundaries.

Professor Howard Gardner from Harvard University selected the MISP as a model program in innovative programming in liberal arts education and had this to say:

“The Mayo Innovation Scholars Program is an outstanding and perhaps unique undergraduate
program, one that encompasses several of the priorities of a contemporary education in the liberal
arts and sciences. Our research group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education chose MISP
as a flagship example of effective education for our time because it cultivates disciplinary and
interdisciplinary thinking, collaborative problem-solving, the intersection of science and
enterprise, and the need for effective oral and written expression. We had the opportunity to
observe the program in action and to speak to a wide range of faculty, administrators, and
students. We were impressed by the program’s thoughtful planning, its flexible execution, and the
uniformly high performance of the students. It is our hope that lessons from this program can be
shared with the higher education community, both nationally and internationally.”

Mayo Innovation Scholars

Project Description

  • Time: Interim (January) 2023
  • A stipend of $1000 for interim participants
  • Represent St. Olaf in a team of four at the Mayo Clinic
  • Information Sessions: TBD
  • Application Deadline for Interim 2023: TBD


Students selected for the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program 2023 interim cohort will be expected to participate in several pre-experience on-campus team meetings and 1-2 required virtual meetings with program mentors outside St. Olaf. Additionally, the team will be required to attend a full-day orientation with the Licensing Manager at the Mayo Clinic Ventures at Mayo in Rochester, MN (date TBD). Visits to Rochester may be required. Teams participating during the 2023 Interim will share the results of their research at Mayo at a day-long event in early March 2023. College transportation will be provided for any required visits to Mayo.


Interim participants will receive a $1000 stipend upon completion of the project.

How to Apply


  • Interim Program: Junior or Senior
  • Major or concentration in any of the natural sciences, nursing, economics, management or media studies, mathematics, or with other relevant academic background/experience
  • Strong academic record
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to extend one’s knowledge base to the topic at hand and to conceptualize and frame relevant questions
  • Previous experience in research preferred but not required
  • Evidence of effectiveness as part of a team
  • Understanding and respect for confidentiality
  • Willingness to commit time and energy to the project

Application Materials

  • Resume
  • Unofficial transcript – Log in to the SIS go to grades -> select all years/terms -> export as a PDF file (one way to do this is by going to a print screen and clicking on “view as PDF”, or “view in preview”)
  • Letter explaining interest in this initiative, describing background and specific experiences related to the project, and providing an example of a team on which the student has been an effective member
  • Name of one faculty member to be used as a reference, indicated in the letter

Application Process

  1. Login to Handshake via the directions next to the login fields Search for “Mayo Innovation Scholars Program” under the job and internship postings tab.
  2. Save your resume, unofficial transcript & cover letter to a common location
  3. Upload your resume “under resume”, your transcript under “unofficial transcript”, and your letter explaining interest under “writing sample” (all under the “Documents” tab on the blue menu bar).
  4. On the right-hand panel, select your resume, transcript & personal statement – click “Submit”.

Interviews of Selected Students

A team of faculty and staff will conduct formal interviews in Fall  2022 (dates TBD) after review of applications.  The final selection will be based on academic background and related experience with care taken to create the appropriate mix of academic backgrounds on each team.