Janelle Olson '03

Moving Forward on the Career Path

Immediately after Luther, Janelle attended Stanford University and earned a Ph.D. in immunology. “My graduate thesis included studying the way different cellular therapies work in bone marrow transplantation,” she says. “I then took a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota Center for immunology, studying the immune response to infection and immunization.”

While at the University of Minnesota, Janelle learned about job opportunities at Be The Match. “I’ve been at Be The Match for over three years now,” she says. “I’m part of the scientific team that works to match donors on the Be The Match bone marrow donor registry with patients needing a bone marrow transplant.”

Good Preparation for Life After Graduation

Janelle believes her science education at Luther gave her a solid foundation of knowledge in biology and chemistry. “But the most important skills I gained were to think critically and ask questions,” she says. “In the field of science, these are some of the most important traits to have as a graduate student and in a career. My majors taught me those skills.”

She appreciates that her education at Luther also taught her to be open to ways she can serve the world while doing what she loves. “I never dreamed I would be able to be an immunologist working at a non-profit organization, doing work that saves lives and makes such a big impact in a field that I love,” she says. “Luther taught me that my majors and the work I do are important, but so is a job that challenges and fulfills me and allows me to always keep learning.”

Liberal Arts Was a Good Fit

Janelle chose Luther because she wanted a college where she could get a rigorous science education with challenging courses and research opportunities, but which also offered a balance with the liberal arts. “I had a religion minor and I loved the diversity of courses that filled my course-load each semester,” she says. “The other reason I chose Luther was because of the music. I had the opportunity to continue playing in band and be surrounded by the wonderful choirs and ways music integrates into daily life at Luther.”

Favorite Aspects of Her Majors

Janelle felt Luther’s science facilities, courses, and research opportunities were outstanding. “I also loved being surrounded by faculty that were committed to providing an outstanding education as well as my growth and development as a person,” she says. “And the peers in biology and chemistry were some of the most passionate, intelligent, motivated, and fun people I’ve met in my life.”