Emily Kraeske

Meet Emily, a new face in MCC education and training

At the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, we’re busy every day dreaming up, developing, and testing new ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer, as well as continuously improve quality of life for survivors. Our team of doctors, nurses, scientists, and educators unite across many different scientific and medical disciplines to ensure that all perspectives, expertise, and insight are shared. And a big part of ensuring that this collaborative effort continues is working together to train up and excite the next generations of health care professionals and researchers! 

That’s where MCC’s Education and Training team comes in. Led by Cathleen Drilling, the Education and Training team is hard at work making sure young people across Minnesota know about the science and health career opportunities they could choose to pursue one day. And the team has just added another staff member to the team roster—Emily Kraeske joined the team in February 2024. Her role focuses on supporting MCC trainees (graduate students, postdocs, and other early career researchers) as they launch into their careers. Keep reading to learn more about Emily and how she landed at the cancer center! 

What brought you to this work? 

I became fascinated by science in high school during classes where I got to extract DNA from strawberries and assess the water quality of nearby streams, and I went on to study environmental science and do climate science research at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory as an undergraduate. After getting connected to some student involvement activities, I discovered a love for the people side of science and decided to slightly pivot what I wanted to focus on in my career. My professional experience has been in engagement, education, and program coordination for science-centered programs, as well as supporting career and leadership development for students and early career professionals at non-profits and universities. I’m excited that my role as Training & Education Inreach Coordinator allows me to use all of these previous experiences and is so well aligned with my passion for creating accessible career pathways in science and health.

What are you most excited about in joining the Education and Training team?

My role focuses on supporting MCC trainees (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early career faculty on MCC teams), and I’m really excited to get to know all of our incredible trainees and start conversations about how we can help set them up for future career success. In addition, I’m looking forward to contributing to the existing Education & Training programming that supports youth in their pursuit of cancer-focused science and health education. Overall, I’m honored to play a role in the wonderful work MCC does to reduce cancer's burden in Minnesota and throughout the world, and I’m excited to get connected to MCC’s staff and faculty and their wealth of knowledge.

In your own words, why is it so important to encourage younger generations to learn about careers in cancer research and care? What are some of the things the Education and Training team does to connect young people with those opportunities and with people already working in the field? 

While there have been many incredible advances in cancer research and care, there is still more work to be done and we need people from all identities and backgrounds to bring their ideas, questions, and lived experiences to the field. Youth and young adults need opportunities and encouragement to see themselves in cancer-focused careers and know the different jobs and pathways they could pursue.

Our Education and Training programming has great opportunities like lab tours and summer internships for youth who want to explore research careers, but my role is a new position that was created to better support current MCC trainees’ professional development. Our team is looking into developing better trainee communication platforms, as well as new resources and programming around funding, professional training, and social opportunities for our graduate students, postdocs, and early career faculty. We’re hoping to partner with trainees as well as staff and faculty from their home departments as we develop these tools and events - reach out to me if you’re interested in getting involved in this work!

What are some projects / events / etc. you are most looking forward to this year? 

There are so many events I’m looking forward to happening in the next few months! The top of my list is probably the Mini Research Symposium next week where I’m excited to meet more trainees, learn about their research, and even get some feedback from them on Education and Training programming ideas we have. We also have one more RED Seminar Series event in May and Speaking Science happening on April 12, both of which are great opportunities to learn more about best practices in science communication and engagement. Finally, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to connect with the community during Doors Open in May. It’s a really exciting time to be joining the team at MCC!

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