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Utah State University Greats

Learning the Business of Medicine

Pre-med student Sherry Baker        Pre-med student Sherry Baker toured the Great Wall of China during USU's inaugural Huntsman School of Business summer program to Asia.
Pre-med student Sherry Baker        Baker, a Willard L. Eccles Undergraduate Research Fellow in the College of Science, presented at 2008's Undergraduate Research Day on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City.
As the lone undergraduate science major traveling with Utah State University’s inaugural 2008 Huntsman School of Business summer program to Asia, Sherry Baker suddenly found herself in the role of tutor. 

“We toured several biotech facilities, including a Thermo Fisher plant in Beijing,” Baker says. “I helped to explain the science end of biotechnology to my fellow travelers. But, believe me, the roles were switched when we visited accounting firms and some of the other businesses.”
Delving into the study of global business has been a mind-expanding experience for the aspiring physician who is earning a degree in public health education through USU’s Biology Department.
“It was overwhelming at first – I didn’t know the lingo,” Baker says. “But I think it’s good to mesh students from varied disciplines. You get a whole new perspective on life.”
She calls her Asian visit – one week in South Korea, three weeks in China, one week in Vietnam – “incredible.”
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” says Baker, who begins her fourth year at USU this fall. “I totally felt an atmosphere of growth, change and development – especially in China.”
A highlight of the visit, she says, was meeting with students her own age in the various countries. In economies just now embracing capitalistic principles, Baker was impressed with her international peers’ entrepreneurial ambitions.
“Many talked about starting their own businesses in the future. I think that’s a privilege many of us Americans take for granted.”
Baker opted to pursue a business minor after receiving a College of Science scholarship for pre-med and pre-dental students. Established by Utah orthopaedic surgeon and USU alum R. Pepper Murray, the scholarship requires recipients to enroll in business classes.
Well prepared to tackle complicated bone fractures and torn ligaments following graduation from Harvard Medical School and a residency at Mayo Clinic, Murray admits he wasn’t prepared for the dollars-and-cents challenge of running a medical practice.
“Ultimately, USU students who continue to med school will be running their own practices,” Murray says. “Those who are uneducated in business will struggle in today’s complex business environment.”
Baker agrees.
“Whether you start your own practice, work for a hospital or get hired by a biomedical company, you need to understand business,” she says. “You also need to know how to manage people.”  
Beyond acquiring knowledge of spreadsheets, market share and e-commerce, Baker, a Willard L. Eccles Undergraduate Research Fellow and a recipient of an American Heart Association Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is accumulating an impressive resume of scientific research experience.
With faculty mentor Daryll DeWald, professor and head of USU’s Biology Department, she’s pursued research projects focused on cardiovascular disease, plant stress response and, most recently, cancer cell metastatis.
“We’re comparing cancer cells with and without suppressor genes,” Baker says. “Only a couple of metastasis suppressor genes have been identified and we’re trying to understand how they work.”
She chose USU for its emphasis on undergraduate research and the accessibility of its professors to students.
“I haven’t been disappointed,” says Baker, who is serving her third year as a College of Science ambassador. “I can talk with professors all the time and get help when I need it.”
She also notes that participation in research is critical to science education.
“You learn to think things through,” Baker says. “You’re not just memorizing things – you learn what’s actually going on.”
Contacts: Sherry Baker; Daryll DeWald (435) 797-2485
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto (435) 797-3517
August 2008

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