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I Chose ISU: Robert Hanson, biochemistry master’s student

January 26, 2015
ISU Marketing and Communications

Robert Hanson, a master’s student in Idaho State University’s biological sciences department, chose ISU because of the faculty, research opportunities for undergraduates, and the welcoming attitude to nontraditional students.

Hanson graduated from Idaho Falls High School in 2003. He has lived in towns throughout the Northwest, including Idaho Falls; Twin Falls; Elko, Nevada; and Ogden, Utah.

About his experience of moving around so much, Hanson jokingly says, “I tend to think of myself as a ‘nomad of the West.'”

Robert HansonHanson started taking classes at University Place in Idaho Falls before coming to ISU’s Pocatello campus to study as a biochemistry major. Hanson came to ISU initially for classes that weren’t offered at University Place.

The initial choice to come to ISU as an undergraduate was, Hanson says, mainly out of convenience, and he really made the decision to “choose” ISU when he started pursuing his master’s degree.

“When I was an undergrad I had a lot of good teachers and was taking really interesting classes. Also, there are a lot of people doing good research here. That’s important to me,” Hanson says.

“There’s an emphasis on letting undergraduate students experience real research. That’s a very unique and cool thing about our university. At bigger universities, undergrads don’t even get to touch research.”

Hanson has also been impressed by ISU’s efforts to be welcoming to nontraditional students. Since he is married and has young child, Hanson feels that this makes him nontraditional as a master’s student.

“It’s great that I can still do challenging work and work on getting my degree,” says Hanson, “I didn’t feel like I had to put off starting a family.”

Hanson has greatly enjoyed learning from and working with ISU’s professors. Jean Pfau is Hanson’s official mentor, but he has felt that many other biochemistry department professors have also been helpful and supportive.

“Dr. Pfau, Dr. Robert Holman, and Dr. Lisa Goss are the three that come immediately to mind, but it’s really hard to pick just one favorite teacher,” says Hanson, “You get to know the whole faculty of a department and everyone touches your life after a certain point.”

Doing volunteer research in Pfau’s “Intro to Microbiology” lab as a junior was a big factor in Hanson choosing ISU for his master’s degree. Hanson found he really enjoyed doing the kind of hands-on work involved in laboratory research.

“I’d always read in books how science lets you gather evidence to reach conclusions, but doing it myself was just such a cool experience,” Hanson says. “Science is all about looking at evidence, and that really resonates with me. I really enjoy that part of the philosophy of this field.”

Hanson and his wife Megan, who also got her degree from ISU, have one son, David. Megan has a bachelor’s degree in social work, and she currently works at the Portneuf District library and is preparing to take her Licensure exam. Robert’s long-term aspirations are to work in the field of biomedical research.

“There’s a lot of good work that can be done in biomedical research and it’s a really worthwhile thing to do,” says Hanson, “I definitely want that to be my career.”


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