Amanda Kortum, a cellular molecular biology major, is already making a name for herself in her field.
In 2010, Kortum presented her research on a protein involved in causing the yeast Candida albicans to become pathogenic at the Montana Academy of Sciences (MAS) at Montana Tech of the University of Montana, the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at the University of Montana, and the University of Montana Western Research Symposium. Kortum was also recently awarded a research fellowship by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).
Kortum views the recent presentations and fellowship as another stepping stone in her educational career at Montana Western.
“I like science, and biology makes sense,” explains Kortum, an aspiring veterinarian. “Biology is more versatile so I can do whatever I want with it. It’s not nearly as limiting as a pre-vet degree, but I can learn all of the same things. It’s hard, but worth it.”
Kortum did not originally intend to enroll at Montana Western. There were many other colleges in her sight, but biology professor Mike Morrow changed that.
“I was doing research in high school and I needed some help,” Kortum explains. “I e-mailed 10 to 15 professors from across the country asking for input. Mike Morrow was the only one who responded.”
For two years Morrow continued an e-mail correspondence with Kortum. He also suggested she attend college in Dillon. Kortum took his advice and came to Montana Western with the intention of transferring once her general education requirements were completed.
While Morrow’s guidance and persistence brought her to Montana Western, Kortum says her experience with professors like Morrow and the Experience One block-scheduling program led her to stay.
“It was such a great experience,” Kortum says. “I wouldn’t have had the hands-on lab work until my junior year anywhere else. The block is hard with some classes; it can be intense. But it’s nice to know that the professors truly care.”
Kortum is already looking ahead towards graduate school and a joint DVM/PHD program.
“Those programs are very competitive,” Kortum admits. “But with the ASM fellowship, previous work, and the professors at Montana Western, I think I have a good educational resumé built up.”