MSU President's Newspaper Column

March 20, 2021

Mayville State students benefit from professors with academic and hands-on credentials

Mayville State’s first-ever Agribusiness Activity Day was a big success! I tip my hat to the Division of Science and Mathematics, who hosted the event; and I appreciate the assistance of the Division of Business and all Mayville State faculty and staff who had a part in making it happen. About 25 high school students were on campus the morning of March 11 to explore the world of agribusiness. Agribusiness is a new program at Mayville State and this event gave us an opportunity to present the participants with interesting topics, while giving them a panoramic view of what they can expect should they choose to pursue the program.

Students participated in four different activities led by science, business, and geography faculty members Dr. Michael Kjelland, Jeff Hovde, Dr. Thomas Craig, Rhonda Nelson, Dr. Bob Tangsrud, and Rob Johnston. Topics included grading of beef, artificial insemination and embryo transfer in cattle, GIS and GPS technology and the use of drones, and business-related matters including starting a business, marketing, price, and promotion.

Activities such as this align with the “Comet Stars” initiative that we’ve been pursing at Mayville State for the past couple of years. The idea is to connect with regional populations and provide information, services, or resources. “Comet Stars” gives people an opportunity to benefit from the knowledge base of our faculty, staff, and students. Through the initiative, we are encouraging, celebrating, and promoting Mayville State University’s innovation, expertise, and creative activities with the citizens of North Dakota and beyond.

Our faculty are extremely talented experts who have so much to share. Their wide variety of interests and expertise are fascinating and are making a positive impact on campus and in the world. Our faculty members not only have the highest academic credentials, they also have the real-world first-hand experiences and interests that can make learning come alive for students and others.

One example is Dr. Michael Kjelland, Assistant Professor of Biology. When he’s not in the classroom or in the research lab at Mayville State, he pursues his interests that include paleontology and the breeding of cattle.

In 2019, Kjelland was part of a team that unearthed a partial 65-million-year-old triceratops skull in the Badlands of southwestern North Dakota. News of their work went viral and the story appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, and in The New York Times, as well as with local and regional outlets and media outlets in Norway, Poland, France, Australia, and other countries.

In the spring of 2019, Dr. Kjelland gave two presentations related to breeding cattle at the First International Reproduction Symposium - Update on the Use of Bovine Assisted Reproductive Techniques held in Linares, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. He was among presenters and participants from several institutions and countries.

In his lab at Mayville State, he and his Mayville State student assistants are doing research related to cancer. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain valuable hands-on experience and knowledge which is helping to pave their way to successful futures. In addition, they are making a positive difference in the quest to find cures and treatments for cancer.

Dr. Kjelland is one of several Mayville State faculty members, including Dr. Joseph Mehus, Dr. Khwaja Hossain, Dr. Tom Gonnella, and others who are providing amazing research opportunities for Mayville State students. In addition to impacting science with their research, they bring their expertise and knowledge to the classroom and share with all students.

All across the university and in all academic divisions, one can find faculty members who are sharing their academic and real-world experiences for the benefit of students and others. We are delighted that we can extend this knowledge beyond the campus and into our community, region, state, and beyond. It’s a win-win. Sharing contributes to making the world a better place and it may spark interest in someone who may choose to pursue a degree at Mayville State. Enrollment is essential to our success and the “Comet Stars” initiative is one way in which we can show people first-hand what it means to be a student at “The School of Personal Service.”

If you are interested in having a Mayville State faculty or staff member share their expertise with your group or class, please be sure to let us know by contacting the Office of Public Relations at 701-788-4750.