A Letter from DoD STARBASE Sioux Falls Graduate Cassandra Aegerter

As a young child growing up in the Midwest, exposure to the STEM fields was limited. The one prominent experience that I can recall happened as a 4th grader attending an elementary school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I was young at the time, yet I can still recall the excitement of being led into a darkened room where a projection of all of the constellations in our galaxy surrounded me, the amazement at seeing an F-16 jet up close, learning how to build projectiles and the satisfaction that came along with watching my project shoot toward the sky, not to mention the wild ride in a military Humvee that concluded the most exciting field trip my younger self would experience.  These were just a few of the activities that I can recall as a young child being exposed to the world of science and engineering at the DoD STARBASE program held at the South Dakota National Guard Base in Sioux Falls.

It has been somewhere around 20 years since that experience and I attribute many of my current interests and career goals to those few days that were spent exploring, asking questions, being engaged in the sciences, all while understanding the impacts and benefits the STEM fields have on our communities and the world.  After graduating high school, I spent some time exploring different career fields such as environmental activism, nursing, and medicine. Eventually, my interest in medicine piqued when I began working for a major hospital taking on positions in hospice care, as well as clinical and emergency medicine. It was then that I decided my desire to make an impact in the lives of others could be done through my interest in science and medicine.

In 2016, I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Augustana University. It was during my time as an undergraduate student that I was exposed the field of biomedical research. I was intrigued by the idea that basic biomedical research could not only impact medicine on an individual patient level, but it had the ability to impact science and medicine on a global scale. Since then, I have been working as a laboratory manager for a biomedical research laboratory at Sanford Research. Currently, my role is to investigate redox signaling in nervous and endocrine tissues, which could have translational impacts on diseases such as type II diabetes and obesity. Eventually, my hope is to further my education and career through completion of either graduate or medical training in order to more effectively utilize my skills and passion for science to further advance medicine and patient care.

DoD STARBASE gave me a rare opportunity to explore science in a real-world setting. It gave me an early exposure to critical thinking, teamwork, and the ability to apply science to real-world problems. It is because of DoD STARBASE that I was able to see the sciences as enjoyable and applicable to my desire to help those around me. I am glad to see that DoD STARBASE is going strong in my community. As a parent of young children, I look forward to sending my young daughters off to experience and discover the same love of science that I did at DoD STARBASE.


Cassandra Aegerter


Posted August 2018

Cassandra Aegerter