Evan Welo ’09 is working on one of the world's preeminent twins studies.
For Welo, who majored in psychology, working for the Minnesota Twin Family Study is the culmination of valuable research experiences during his time at Macalester.
Welo was selected for the research position from among more than 400 applicants, many of whom had master's degrees. In addition to being impressed by his academic experiences at Macalester, researchers admired Welo’s persistence and hard work after graduation.
Welo immersed himself in the Psychology Department and its connections to the Twin Cities.
During his time at Macalester he:
- Shadowed an orthopedic surgeon and two pediatricians through a Taylor Fellowship
- Interned with the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota
- Completed a yearlong honors project on mental imagery intervention and
- Tested tactics on his basketball teammates
Those research skills come into play daily in his work with the Minnesota Twin Family Study (MFTS) at the University of Minnesota. Established in the 1980s, the study has enrolled 1,900 pairs of twins from the Upper Midwest and has evolved into one of the field’s leading twins studies.
As a junior scientist, Welo spends his days learning advanced data analysis techniques and working on research projects with graduate students and primary investigators. One recent project, for example, called for him to examine the differences in brain waves between alcohol abusers and non-alcohol abusers on a specific task.
"I love the steep learning curve that comes with this job," says Welo, who plans to attend medical school. "I’ve learned a lot since I joined the study, but at the same time I recognize how much more I have to learn. This gap motivates me, and it’s definitely the best part of my job."
Given that his job involved juggling nearly two decades of accumulated data, Welo worried initially about how he’d sustain his creative side. However, he quickly learned that creativity is an essential part of research. "The more data analysis techniques I learn, the more opportunity I have for being creative with my job," he says. "It’s like being a musician – the better you get at playing your instrument, the more opportunities you have to explore and create in your field."