print header

 Profiles in Excellence 

Research Opens Doors to Opportunities

Lori Scardino
Lori Scardino, '07
"Amazing" is what Dr. Scott Hartsel, a UW-Eau Claire professor of chemistry, calls Lori Scardino who as an undergraduate worked on collaborative research with him.

"Lori began to make both intellectual and experimental contributions to our research faster than any student I have ever seen," Hartsel said. "Her enthusiasm and work ethic were contagious I think, pushing all of us to do more."

Scardino also worked with UW-Eau Claire faculty members Dr. Julie Anderson in biology and Dr. Veena Chadha in mathematics and collaborated with Dr. Alan Dispirito, a professor from Iowa State University, before graduating from UW-Eau Claire in 2007 with bachelor's degrees in chemistry and biology.

"Doing undergraduate research was absolutely the best part of my experience at UW-Eau Claire," Scardino said."I got to work with primary investigators doing research and not just be an undergraduate washing laboratory test tubes —something that wouldn't have been the case at a lot of bigger schools."

Her dedication to seeking out and performing research helped Scardino achieve numerous honors, including being a McNair Scholar, a Kell Scholar and one of two UW-Eau Claire students to be named to USA Today's All-USA College Academic First Team. She did all this as a single mother raising two girls.

"At UW-Eau Claire, the whole environment was so supportive of students doing research," Scardino said. "It was really incorporated into the whole education experience. We were able to bridge what we were doing in the lab to the class curriculum."

Scardino also presented research done with Hartsel at four national meetings, at Student Research Day at UW-Eau Claire and in Madison at the UW System's annual Posters in the Rotunda event, where she also was a keynote speaker and received a state legislative citation.

"Traveling to meetings gives you a better picture of what opportunities there are," Scardino said. "I wouldn't have thought about going to graduate school when I first started college. Going to meetings opened my eyes to opportunities and opened so many doors for me."

Research also educates students in many ways classes can't, Scardino said.

"First, it helps you decide if research is right for you and something you really enjoy and want to do," Scardino said. "It also teaches you the problem-solving skills you can't get from a textbook."

Scardino said the importance of undergraduate research was brought home to her when she served as a student representative for graduate school admissions at UW-Madison, where she currently is a doctoral student.

"The No. 1 thing we looked for was if the applicants had done research," Scardino said."It's the best indicator of whether a person will do well in graduate school."

Scardino currently is doing research for her doctorate at UW-Madison, focusing on immunology research in the cellular and molecular pathology graduate program. Once she completes her doctoral degree, Scardino hopes to be a professor at a university.

"I'd love to return to UW-Eau Claire," Scardino said. "But no matter what, I want to teach at a school that values undergraduate research like UW-Eau Claire. I'm excited about science, and I want to get the next generation excited, too."

To see other Alumni profiles in excellence, click here.