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"I did a lot of theatre in elementary and middle school and played volleyball in high school, so I guess I've always been in front of people. I've tutored a lot so that helps working with people too. We have a great science club at Minot State and we do demonstrations there. The Science Magic Show is a great place to learn to speak in front of people because there is nothing more critical than an 11-year-old girl when you are trying to explain beads changing under UV light."
- Jordan Torgunrud, Minot State senior chemistry/math major

MSU Profiles

Torgunrud excelling at a national level

Minot State University senior Jordan Torgunrud admits she doesn't like to give presentations in front of people.

Her organic chemistry professor Mikhail Bobylev smiles a little when he hears that.

"It doesn't show," he mused.

It certainly hasn't as Torgunrud has garnered some impressive accolades during her academic career at Minot State, including twice earning a trip to the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. This year's event, the 255th National Meeting, is set for March 18-22 in New Orleans.

"I did a lot of theatre in elementary and middle school and played volleyball in high school, so I guess I've always been in front of people," she said. "I've tutored a lot so that helps working with people too. We have a great science club at Minot State and we do demonstrations there. The Science Magic Show is a great place to learn to speak in front of people because there is nothing more critical than an 11-year-old girl when you are trying to explain beads changing under UV light."

While the science show is a fun event, Torgunrud has excelled when the stakes are much higher. The Estevan, Saskatchewan native, who will graduate in May with degrees in chemistry and math with an honors concentration, has been to national events in math and science, won the Undergraduate Research in Molecular Sciences Top award for her oral presentation at the 12th annual Northwest Region Meeting in Molecular Sciences this fall in Moorhead, Minn., and was recently accepted to participate in the 22nd Annual Posters on the Hill, earning one of the 60 spots to present on Capitol Hill April 17-18.

For Bobylev, her cool exterior demeanor at events is a mixture of raw talent and a tireless work ethic.

"When Jordan wins awards and is picked to do presentations, part of that is a gift, she has a gift," he said. "But it is a lot of work as well. This isn't just coming out of nowhere. She spends hours preparing for these presentations. To get to her level, you need to prepare, you need to work hard, and you need to be inspired. She has all of those."

Torgunrud doesn't just limit herself to working in a lab either. She was named to the 2017 MSU Homecoming Court, is the Honor Society president, and the Minot State Student Chapter of the American Chemical Society president.

"The first thing was honor society. It was a requirement to be honest, but it just stuck with me. I really got to know a lot of people," she said of her involvement in activities at MSU. "Once you are in the upper levels of science, you are in science club. I enjoy the events because you get to work with some of the younger students, maybe freshmen and sophomores, and help them get interested. Peer mentoring was something I really enjoyed and we were always pushing them to get involved in the clubs."

While Torgunrud has always been interested in math and science, she wasn't sure initially what she wanted to pursue. According to Bobylev, the departments are set up just for that.

"Minot State is unique because we provide the opportunity for every student to do research," he said. "It's mandatory to do some, but we provide the opportunity to do a lot if you want to. That is a huge advantage at MSU. We provide a serious, real-time research experience.

"For Jordan, she was very much interested in research, but didn't really know what she wanted to do. She worked with math, geology, and organic chemistry. We received funding to research new methods and new materials for making polymers and it was a fantastic coincidence for her because it was something she really became interested in. It has become her passion."

That passion has not only helped her academic career at Minot State, but has fueled the next step in her academic evolution.

"I really would like to be a synthetic chemist in a research lab, working on alternative energy or sustainable materials, something that helps the environment," she said of her future. "I will start grad school next year and eventually work on earning my Ph.D."

Bobylev is just as excited as Torgunrud is for her future.

"Because of what she has done at Minot State, she has become very competitive, she can go to whatever school she wants," he said. "She applied for seven graduate schools in the United States and Canada and was accepted to six of them. She is a great role model for the department. She can go on and do whatever she wants and will have a great career."