Pictured from left: Sidnie Layesa ’25, Yoandri Hernandez ’24, Adrian Aguilar ’25, and Janine Preko ’25 (with team leader Maggie Bianchi).

The Innovation Scholars program offers a unique opportunity for multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate liberal art students from Macalester and twelve other institutions in Minnesota to explore the intersection of science, healthcare and medicine, economics, business, and entrepreneurship.

Led by MBA students, teams of undergraduates analyze real innovations and challenges in real time, researching and recommending next steps for inventions and new products in development at Mayo Clinic and at early-stage medical companies in Medical Alley.

This year, Macalester’s multidisciplinary team included Adrian Aguilar ’25 (Oakland, Calif.), an economics and chemistry major; Yoandri Hernandez ’24 (Liberty Township, Ohio), an economics major; Sidnie Layesa ’25 (Victoria, Philippines), an economics and biology major; and Janine Preko ’25 (Lakewood, N.J.), a neuroscience major.

The six-month program began in October with an in-person orientation session in the Twin Cities. Led by graduate student team leader Maggie Bianchi from St. Catherine University, the team completed extensive research, developed recommendations, prepared their final report, and delivered their final presentation for Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF) leaders in March.

Among other professional skills, students developed collaborative teamwork and leadership skills while wrestling with the ambiguity of a real-time, real-world project for MHIF.

“My greatest takeaway from the program is that it takes a diverse village to tackle big problems,” says Layesa. “Working with a multidisciplinary team not only leads to better solutions, but it also makes the work exciting and rewarding. I could not have asked for a better team. Somehow, our skills complemented each other and it was a humbling experience to learn from my teammates.”

The team received guidance and support along the way from Macalester staff and faculty members Liz Jansen, Pete Ferderer, Felix Friedt, Elena Tonc ’13, Liz Karlen, and Sasmita Tripathy.

May 17 2024

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