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Passion. It’s an emotion that drives us to do more, tackle challenges and achieve goals.

For University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumnus Aaryn Mustoe, ’09, his passion for research and teaching has taken him to the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), where he works as a graduate assistant, instructor and is studying marmoset monkeys.

Mustoe, a first-generation college student from South Milwaukee, is applying his education in biology and psychology, the hands-on experience he gained doing undergraduate research and his experiences as a Supplemental Instructor at UNO, where he works as a graduate assistant and instructor.

“The main thing I benefited from at UW Oshkosh was getting involved in hands-on research,” Mustoe said. “A lot of what I learned at UWO was the ins and outs of research, learning from your mistakes, as well as the work that goes into designing and carrying out projects.”

Undergraduate research teaches students how to design and carry out a project, how to analyze and interpret results, as well as instills a sense of independence in students.

“The faculty are there to help you along the way,” Mustoe said. “It really gives you a lot of confidence.”

At UW Oshkosh, students often work with faculty one-on-one in designing and carrying out the project, as well as interpreting and analyzing the data.

“The one-on-one mentorship at UW Oshkosh is really what sets it apart,” Mustoe said.

UW Oshosh alumnus Aaryn Mustoe in a research lab at UNOAt UW Oshkosh, Mustoe participated in the first cohort of McNair Scholars, a program that pairs underrepresented students with faculty for research projects.

“The faculty have cutting-edge research labs, and the university is small and intimate enough so students can participate in faculty projects or carry-out and design their own research projects,” Mustoe said. “I really encourage students in any field to become involved working with faculty whether it be in research, creative arts or working with the community.”

In addition to participating in the McNair Scholars program, Mustoe also served as a Supplemental Instruction (SI) leader for psychology students.

“I was an SI leader for a good five or six semesters working with nearly every Intro to Psychology instructor at the time,” Mustoe said. “It really helped develop my skills as a teacher and it was rewarding working with students toward achieving their course goals.”

UW Oshkosh alumnus Aaryn Mustoe feeds cheerios to the marmoset monkeys in his research studyAt UNO, Mustoe is working as a graduate assistant, instructor and researcher, studying the influence of the hormone oxytocin in marmoset monkeys.

“Oxytocin is associated with perceiving, forming, and maintaining social bonds through a wide variety of mechanisms ranging from ‘good things’ like generosity, trust, and empathy, to ‘bad things’ like social stress and aggression,” Mustoe said.

For Mustoe, his time at UW Oshkosh was more than gaining knowledge in his field, it was about learning how to make good life decisions.

“UW Oshkosh is not just about school,” Mustoe said. “It’s about learning how to live a responsible life, how to manage the positives, negatives, the fun things, the not-so-fun things—it’s about finding the balance between coursework, studying and hanging out with friends.”

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