Alumna's Passion For Science Still Evident As Research Professional

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The opportunity to combine a love of volleyball with a passion for science led Colorado native Aimee Steinwand ’18 to Dominican University of California. That hasn't changed years later in her home state.

“Dominican was the only school I visited that would let me to major in science and play volleyball,” says Aimee who still plays volleyball away from her job as a Clinical Research Services Professional at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. “I wanted to be a surgeon, but all the Division I coaches I spoke with said that volleyball would own me and that being a science major wouldn’t work with my schedule.”

Selecting Dominican and the School of Health and Natural Sciences was an easy decision for Aimee, a graduate of Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs. The daughter of two aerospace engineers, she was determined to attend a university with a strong academic program and a focus on attending graduate school. She also welcomed the opportunity to continue her volleyball career at the NCAA Division II level through Dominican Athletics.

“I was here less than 24 hours on my official visit before I decided that this was where I wanted to be,” Aimee says. “I loved the school, the girls on the team, the professors, and the opportunity to get involved with research as an undergraduate.”

Three years later, the biochemistry major’s schedule was packed with both athletic and academic activities, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

After spending a summer in Spain shadowing doctors at a public hospital near Valencia through the Atlantis Project, Aimee gained more hands-on experiences through the Pre-Med Program. Dominican, in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente-Northern California, created the program in 2009 so that students could gain insight into a medical career by shadowing Kaiser Permanente physicians.

Since its 2009 debut, the Pre-Med Mentor Program has helped launch the medical careers of several Dominican students, including Connor Haysbert ’14, Matthew Stegman ’13, Elizabeth Castellanos ’13, Jordan Rode ’14, Ian Lancaster ’14, and Mckenna Kimball ’15.

Aimee also spent a year serving as president of Dominican’s chapter of pre-health honor society Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED). Her goal was to work with the other officers to identify resources and community service opportunities that will assist pre-health students in applying to graduate schools.

Aimee, whose goal at Dominican was to work in either orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, or trauma, believes Dominican’s focus on undergraduate research prepared her well for medical school. For more than two years she was involved with the Tyler Johnson Lab focused on biomedical research involving marine derived natural products.

“Dominican has an absolutely incredible research program, but I hadn’t realized how great our program is until talking with students from other universities,” Aimee says. “I was one of the only students with undergraduate research experience. People who attend larger schools said usually it’s only graduate students who get to do the research.”

Immediately after returning from Spain, Aimee started training for volleyball season. Serving as a co-captain she mentored seven new players and was selected to the 2017 Preseason All-PacWest Volleyball Team. A two-time All-PacWest performer, she led the Penguins to a third-place tie in the 14-team PacWest in 2016, Dominican’s highest finish its 13-year history of playing volleyball in the conference.

Aimee still has fond memories of her time at Dominican.

“I love the area and the fact that there are a lot of people from different cultures and religions living there,” she says. “The Bay Area is so different from where I grew up, it’s amazing how much I learned just from the people around me, and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to attend Dominican.”

At the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus now, Aimee’s duties include working with patients and their families to enroll them in clinical trials, record data and collect samples from patients plus attend meetings to collaborate with clinical research sites around the country including Vanderbilt University, University of Alabama Birmingham, UT-Houston, and the Oregon Health & Science University. Anschutz presents and publishes its findings in scientific journals and at national conferences, most recently SOMA and MHSRS.

According to U.S. News and World Report, the University of Colorado ranks in the top 10 in the United States for research in eight specialties and is the No. 1 hospital in the state for 10 consecutive years. Hence, Aimee feels fortunate to have landed in the Emergency Department at Anschutz in the ATLAS (Airways, Trauma, Lung injury, and Sepsis Research) program.

“After graduation, while I was applying to medical school, I worked as an EMT/Firefighter for a couple of years and through COVID. I became extremely burned out working as a first responder through COVID and decided to try something new,” Aimee says. “Thankfully, my research experience at Dominican with Dr. Johnson was key in landing me this amazing job that I can create a career out of. Through my work now, I am able to start a Masters in Biostatistics and Bioinformatics to help further my research career ... I am so happy I can continue to compete and work in the scientific community.”

In addition, Aimee continues to play volleyball and hopes to return again to San Rafael and compete in Penguin alumni volleyball games in the Conlan Center.

“I tell so many people about Dominican and the amazing opportunities it has provided me,” she says.

Photo of Aimee Steinwand  '18 with University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in background. 

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