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Manager, scientist & future grad student: Adelle Schumann

Two women in white lab coats, one seated, one standing, by a large machine.
September 1, 2017

Some students arrive at college knowing exactly what they want to do. For the rest of us.... Adelle Schumann is proof that a variety of experiences has tremendous value in her job at NRRI.

“I switched majors a lot and by my third year all my classes just shimmied into this degree."

Adelle Schumann, UMD ’10, is proof that a winding road to college graduation can lead to work life satisfaction.

When she started her bachelor’s degree, all she knew for sure is that she liked science. So Schumann tried a few majors – chemistry, biology, biochemistry – before landing on cellular and molecular biology.

“I switched majors a lot and by my third year all my classes just shimmied into this degree,” she said with a laugh.

But now, as a NRRI laboratory manager and scientist, Schumann credits those experiences and a variety of post-graduation lab jobs with the intuition gained to be successful and the confidence to pursue a master’s degree in the fall of 2018.

Adding another “ball” to her juggling act doesn’t worry her. Managing NRRI’s busy Microbiology and Biotechnology lab for principal investigator and Professor Chanlan Chun includes managing six projects and seven student technicians. She’s good at juggling.

For each project Chun brings to the lab, Schumann takes care of critical details – trains students on lab, experiment and safety protocols, orders supplies and equipment, coordinates logistics. She also helps with sample collection, data processing and interpretation.

“And ordering supplies can be a hassle,” she said. “Because this is a new lab we need everything. It takes time and energy to shop for the right product at the right price.”

On top of lab management, Schumann is coordinating and conducting her own research to assess sewer systems for antibiotic resistance. The summer sampling season has meant many days out of the lab to collect samples. But this research will deliver a double whammy; she can build her master’s degree project around the data.

“That will give me a clear plan and preliminary data for my master’s, which is really great,” Schumann said.

Her assistance has also been requested by another NRRI principal investigator leading a wolf study, as well as training people to use NRRI’s scanning electron microscope. Schumann started working in the lab as it was being established at NRRI in 2015 which allowed her to develop the organizational logistics and lab protocols.

As she considers her long-range goals, Schumann thinks she’d enjoy teaching 100 and 200 level college courses.

“I like those entry level courses, where students weed themselves out and find their way, much like I did,” she added. “It’s a time when you can watch the students really grow.”

Current projects underway in the Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology Lab:
1. “Assessing microbes for promoting wild rice restoration ” funded by Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Natural Resources
2. “Electromagnetic Enhancement of Microbial Processes for Remediation of Nitrate and Other Water Contaminants” funded by MnDRIVE
3. “Enhanced microbial sulfate removal and recovery through a novel electrode-integrated bioreactor” funded by USGS, Annual Water Resource Center Grant Competition
4. "Development of iron liberation methods to sustainable biological sulfate removal from mine water" funded by Minnesota Mining Innovation Grant (NRRI)
5. “Stormwater biofiltration for Duluth-based foundry” funded by MnDRIVE
6. “Assessment of impacts of upstream sewer systems on antibiotic resistance for the protection of the Great Lakes watersheds” funded by lab startup funds.

Student Researchers:
Tobin Deen
Tom Vennemann
Dan Takaki
Tyler Untiedt
Jake Daire
Kris Isaacson
Tiana Eng