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MSU provided direction for my success

Upon first meeting Brady Burckhard, you might think "athlete." His slender, 6 foot 2 inch frame gives him the appearance of a natural basketball player. When asked, he will tell you he enjoys basketball, baseball and curling. But in conversation, you quickly learn it's not the NBA or the World Series that captures his attention. It's research.

"I love school, I live for this," he said. "Research has been my after school job for three years, and I'm always in the lab. I feel like that's where I belong."

Burckhard, a recent biology and chemistry grad, started at Minot State University studying biology, as a prelude to medical school. After doing well in his freshman chemistry class, he was convinced to add a second major. He recognized that chemistry could be a critical component to attain a high score on the Medical College Admission Test.

"I knew that getting accepted to med school would require extracurricular activities. That could be working in hospitals or research, so I figured I'd better start my research early," he said. "I also knew that chemistry required a senior seminar, which is presenting the research you've completed over the last year or two. So I chose to research for med school, my degree and for pure interest and curiosity in science."

Burckhard began research his sophomore year with Mikhail Bobylev, associate chemistry professor. The goal was to design and synthesize compounds with antifungal or other medicinal properties for industry use.

The 2011 Souris River flood provided Burckhard with additional opportunities.

Mold is a hardy substance for fungicide research, and the flood left behind plenty of mold. So Bobylev, Burckhard and another student painstakingly collected mold samples from different colonies in two flooded properties. They sent the samples to an outside lab for identification, and their research provided important information about potential health threats and methods of treatment to health professionals.

"The flood allowed us to go out in the community with our research. We were able to take a direct incident in Minot, bring it to the lab and combine the two," Burckhard said. "To be able to get out of the lab and into the community provided me with another experience that was very exciting. Before this, I never thought the research we were doing would interest or impact anyone outside the team."

As Burckhard prepares for medical school, he carries a quiet confidence developed at MSU.

"The small school atmosphere at MSU sets a student up for success. I was a member of the Science Club, Club Biology, Math Club, Student Government Association, Mu Sig fraternity...I was busy, but I learned to adapt and loved it. MSU provides great opportunities for people who want to go further," he said.

"Looking back, Minot State was the best decision. It put me where I'm at today."