MINNESOTA — Decatur County native Dr. Donna Bruns Stockrahm, Professor of Biology at Minnesota State University Moorhead, received the Mother Clarissa Dillhoff Award for Distinguished Achievement in Mentoring at Marian University’s alumni awards in 2011.
Dr. Stockrahm graduated from Marian University in 1976 with her bachelor’s of science in biology. She would go on to earn a master’s in biology from the University of North Dakota, and a doctorate’s in zoology from The Ohio State University. Dr. Stockrahm is also a cancer survivor, on top of her professional successes.
In 1989 Dr. Stockrahm was hired at Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSU) and would spend her career improving and beginning programs.
"I had to invent the wheel," said Dr. Stockrahm.
As a teacher at MSU, Dr. Stockrahm was the first required to have a research program in the biology department— a requirement which had no funding or formal organization. Stockrahm organized the funding needed to mentor undergraduate students.
Once a program was available to fund the mandatory research projects, Dr. Stockrahm would continue to mentor student research projects which studied the ecology of painted turtles, Canadian geese, and wild turkeys.
Stockrahm said Marian College had provided her with good mentors and a strong biology background.
"I love Marian College," she said, "And I’m happy to carry on a tradition of mentoring. To quote the Army, I wanted to ‘be the best that we can be;’ it’s true."
Dr. Stockrahm initially attended pre-veterinary school as an undergrad, but decided the profession was not for her. As a teacher and biologist, she reasoned, she would get to work with both healthy and sick animals, as well as her students.
"It’s a rewarding job," said Dr. Stockrahm.
Her mentoring award is just one on a long list of achievements from MSU. She has also been given the Academic Affairs Council Excellence in Research Award, Outstanding Academic Advisor, and Student Organization Advisor of the Month, which recognized Dr. Stockrahm’s efforts to help the student chapter of The Wildlife Society achieve official standing.
Dr. Stockrahm received a glowing letter of recommendation from MSU biosciences chair, Ellen Brisch:
"Donna is a cornerstone of our program ... incredibly productive and inspiring, with a distinguished career here as one of ‘firsts’ — the first faculty member to develp a research program with students; first to publish extensively in our department; first (and only one of us) to develop summer courses at prestigious School for Field Studies; first to take students and present at national society meetings and summer research courses; first to write for and receive numerous grants on a yearly basis; first to coordinate internships for students with numerous wildlife agencies in the region; first to develop community oriented research projects that address questions of concern to members and allow members to participate — she currently has a wild turkey project going. Our department is recognized as a leader in undergraduate research in the state, and this exciting atmosphere is a direct result of Donna’s legacy."
Dr. Donna Stockrahm is the daughter of Teresa (Wickens) and the late Dale E. Bruns of Millhousen.