In the Field | Alumni Making the Most of Their Background in Biology
Logan Peterman BS’09
At Organic Valley, a Wisconsin-based food brand and organic farmer cooperative, Logan Peterman serves as an organic research director and data scientist.
“The agricultural biome is the largest class of land use in the world,” says Peterman. “As an aspiring ecologist and conservationist, I realized that making small, incremental changes to agricultural practices could have truly massive effects as they multiply over that incredible acreage. I decided that bolstering organic farming methods was a superb way to help heal some of the huge environmental issues we face as a species.”
Peterman manages Organic Valley’s connection with ongoing research while predicting raw supply to improve performance of the company’s supply chain. He also advises a community of staff, farmer, and industry stakeholders on emerging research, implications, and opportunities pertaining to the business. “All of these efforts are enhanced by networking throughout the organic community,” says Peterman, “which ensures that new academic research is relevant to farmers’ needs and well informed about the actual conditions on farms and throughout the supply chain.”
During his time at CALS, Peterman worked in Randy Jackson’s Grassland Ecology Lab. “CALS introduced me to almost all of the skills I’ve continued to develop throughout the last decade,” says Peterman. “From ecological and agricultural principles to the data management of active scientific projects, I use highly refined versions of the skills I learned nearly every day in my current work.”
Jaimee Jaucian BS’03
As an undergraduate, Jaimee Jaucian planned on going to medical school or working in the sciences. She was also a member of the UW Dance Team, and she ended up pursuing a career that combines her academic background with her favorite art form.
“Graduating from UW through CALS taught me how to push through challenges and not give up, even when I doubt myself,” says Jaucian. “When I found the Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling master’s program at Columbia College, Chicago, I found a way to still be in health care while fueling my passion for dance and helping others through movement.”
Jaucian is a licensed clinical professional counselor in Illinois and a board-certified dance/movement therapist.
At Amita Health, a faith-based health system in Chicago, she is the clinical supervisor for various community mental health programs, including outpatient therapy, psychosocial rehabilitation (for reintegrating patients back into the community), and mental health court, where ordinarily prison- bound individuals go through long-term, community-based treatment. “I love getting to help people and train new therapists in the field,” says Jaucian. “It’s very rewarding to be part of another’s journey toward reaching their full potential, whether it be a client, student intern, or staff member.”
Jaucian is also a dance instructor at Star Performance Company, where she provides professional expertise and choreography for Midwestern dance teams.
Michelle Botchey BS’05
Throughout her career, Michelle Botchey has played many roles: nurse, pediatric nurse practitioner, and clinical instructor for nursing students.
“My parents tell me stories about how I would talk about being a teacher, pediatrician, and nurse,” says Botchey. “In a roundabout way, I have somewhat lived out my dreams.”
She was recently a staff nurse at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she cared for children in an outpatient setting, treating nonemergency issues (ear infections, strep throat, or minor injuries) and emergency conditions (allergic reactions or major fractures). In January, she started a new position with Seattle Children’s Hospital, where she works in a variety of pediatric specialties as a member of the Advanced Practice Provider Fellowship Program.
“My favorite part of my work is the vibrant nature of the children I am caring for,” says Botchey. “They are extremely resilient, fun to listen to, and, if you listen very carefully, very good at describing what is bothering them.”
She thanks CALS for giving her a solid foundation in chemistry, biology, microbiology, and anatomy, which paved the way for the health care career she loves so much.
“It is often difficult to see children in a compromised state, but when I am able to witness their road to wellness, it makes my job that much more rewarding,” Botchey says. “I couldn’t imagine my life without the opportunity to care for, treat, and educate pediatric patients and families.”
Trisha Pedone BS’11
Trisha Pedone leveraged her bachelor’s in biology to pursue a doctor of pharmacy degree from the UW–Madison School of Pharmacy, which she earned in 2015. She chose a career in pharmacy for the unique part it plays within a health care team.
“Pharmacists are the engineers of a treatment regimen,” she says. “They understand the mechanics of the body and how those mechanics will be impacted by medications.”
Pedone became a lead pharmacist at Weill Cornell Medical Center before assuming her current role as pharmacy manager of strategic projects with the New York-Presbyterian Enterprise.
“The reason I love my job is that it is ever-evolving,” she says. “I have the opportunity to be at the heart of strategic initiatives within our department, and my projects pivot to constantly improve patient care.”
She initiates and leads high-priority projects for the pharmacy department, and her decisions can impact multiple patients at one time. “Currently, my projects involve automation and technology deployment,” says Pedone. This includes upgrades for automated dispensing cabinets and medication carousels and electronic medical record conversion.
Pedone says her time at CALS and her experience with the biology major continue to influence how she works today. “The biology program offered a well-rounded basis of biological sciences within a top-tier research institution,” says Pedone. “Through CALS, I developed the foundation of my academic career, which has made me into a lifelong scholar. The rigor in academics among my bright colleagues drove me to never settle for anything less than my best.”
Joshua Balts BS’07
Joshua Balts knows firsthand what it’s like to suffer through injuries. “I had five orthopedic surgeries growing up,” he says. “So I was exposed to the field many times.”
Today, Balts is an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic Health Systems in his hometown of Barron, Wisconsin, where he treats fractures, hand conditions, sports-related injuries, and hip, knee, and shoulder arthritis.
“I love my job because I get to help people achieve their goals of staying as active as possible with as little pain as possible,” he says. “Seeing patients living active lives really fuels me.”
Balts chose orthopedics because he loves hands-on work, enjoys interacting with people, and appreciates the ever-evolving scientific and technical aspects of the job. “Medicine as a whole is a constantly changing field, so it definitely keeps things new and fresh having to keep up with the latest evidence for treatment of patients,” he says.
He credits CALS for his passion for continuous learning. “CALS really prepared me to be an adult learner,” Balts says. “It’s an extremely difficult transition from high school to college, but I felt that, with the help of my mentors and professors, becoming an adult learner was made easier.”
Balts is happy to use the skills he’s cultivated in Madison in his old neighborhood. “It’s been great to be back in my hometown and the surrounding area and seeing many people I grew up with,” he says. “There’s never a dull moment trying to provide the best, most up-to-date care for my patients.”
Lily Servais BS’08
Lily Servais heard about the field of genetic counseling — providing information and support to people who have or are affected by genetic disorders — in high school. She thought the combination of science and psychology would be a good fit for her.
“Luckily for me, the University of Wisconsin–Madison had great genetics and biology programs for me to build my foundation in the field,” Servais says. “The time I spent at CALS helped establish my lifelong love of learning and desire to understand the world around me.”
Servais is a genetic counselor at Color, a health technology company. Color offers its clients data-driven health programs such as clinical genetics. “As only the second genetic counselor at Color, I helped develop the company’s genetic counseling service and many of the genetic counseling tools,” says Servais.
She has transitioned from clinical counseling to providing support for the Color team. This includes internal support, such as distilling the company’s research results for the sales and marketing teams, and external support, such as walking physicians through test results so they can have productive conversations with patients.
“It is beyond exciting to work for a company at the forefront of utilizing technology to transform health care, making it accessible, convenient, and cost-effective for everyone,” says Servais. “I know that the work I do every day matters.”
The CALS graduates highlighted here represent the depth and breadth of alumni accomplishments. Selections are made by Grow staff and are intended to reflect a sample of alumni stories. It is not a ranking or a comprehensive list. For more about CALS alumni, visit cals.wisc.edu/alumni.
This article was posted in Food Systems, Health and Wellness, In the Field, Spring 2020 and tagged Alumni, Biology, dance/movement therapy, Genetic counseling, health care, nursing, organic agriculture, orthopedics, pharmacy.