Student Researcher Spotlight: Marie Severson

Posted on: January 29, 2020   |   Category: Participant Spotlights
Marie Severson

Marie Severson is a current Graduate Research Assistant at the University of South Dakota (USD). She’s involved with the USD Neuroscience, Nanotechnology & Networks Program (N3) and Basic Biomedical Sciences Department. She also received her undergraduate degree from USD in Biology.

Severson participates in research that explores the adequacy of Metal-organic Supercontainers (MOSC) nanoparticles in reducing methamphetamine (METH) neurotoxicity in an animal model. This extremely small molecule has the ability to bind excess neurotransmitters that are released when METH is ingested. The excess neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin etc…) cause toxic effects in the brain, so the group is trying to reduce this toxicity before the negative cascade occurs in users. 

“Research has taught me that it’s okay if something doesn’t work and that almost no one gets it right the first time,” remarked Severson. “Trying new things in the lab and building on these learning experiences within a team setting are some of the things I love about participating in research.”

Besides the fact that she gets to work with rats, working on research that may one day be part of a solution to a world-wide health concern (METH addiction/overdose) has driven Severson to pursue a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related career. 

One developmental program she has taken advantage of is the Science Communication Program run by Rhea Waldman out of the South Dakota Discovery Center in Pierre. The workshops are based on the National Science Foundation-funded Portal to the Public approach that trains scientists to connect with the public and other audiences. Severson also recently started an internship with the SD EPSCoR office. 

“My participation in the USD N3 program requires an internship, and since I’ve been involved in different programs that partner with SD EPSCoR, I thought an internship with them would be a great fit to explore how I might work with nonprofit STEM organizations in the future.”

When she’s not in the lab or plugging away at her studies, Severson loves traveling, visiting museums, teaching her daughter about nature and bike-riding with her family.