Bemidji State Feels Like Home to Senior Athlete and Cancer Researcher

Rumer Flatness in her research lab.

Rumer Flatness in her research lab.

A pre-dentistry senior and women’s basketball guard from Bemidji, Rumer Flatness knew she wanted to be a Bemidji State Beaver after her first tour on campus.

“I picked BSU because I loved the campus and the atmosphere here,” she said. “I really enjoyed the conversations I had with the Women’s Basketball team and the faculty were awesome about explaining academic opportunities. It felt like home from the moment I stepped on campus.”

Soon after she committed to play basketball at BSU, Flatness was recruited by Dr. Mark Wallert, chair of the university’s biology department, to join the Wallert Cancer Research Team on campus. She started her research the summer before her freshman year and has been conducting cancer research at Bemidji State since.

“I ended up loving the research, I am following in the footsteps of many young BSU scientists,” she said.

Flatness is researching the effects between ovarian cancer chemotherapy and a cancer protein called NHE1, which is known to hyper-activate cancer cells. The goal is to identify a drug that can slow or halt the production of NHE1 so that patients have a better quality of life during chemotherapy, she said. But Flatness is not the first cancer researcher on campus.

For the last 25 years, Wallert has guided undergraduates through real-world research experiences that have shown them what it means to be working scientists. Wallert began running his cancer research team at BSU for the first time in fall 2015.

“A lot of my role in this project is a data collection, lab time and experiments coming together to write the paper. There were two girls who were a part of the research team before me who will also be a part of the final product.”

The multi-year ovarian cancer research will culminate in a final research paper sometime during the 2022-2023 academic year, Flatness says.

Funding sources that support the research team include the Lueken Family Foundation, the Richard Beitzel Biochemistry Student Research Fund, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and various BSU faculty grants.

When Flatness started attending Bemidji State she wanted to be a doctor, but changed her mind to pursue dentistry instead. However, even though she changed her focus from medical health to dental health, Flatness continued to focus her energy on helping others. Set to graduate in Spring 2023, Flatness recently applied for dental school and dreams to one day become an oral surgeon.

About Bemidji State’s Pre-Professional Programs

Bemidji State’s fourteen pre-professional programs are specifically designed programs that vary in length from one to four years and prepare students for entrance into professional schools. While some students choose to complete pre-professional programs that require one or two years of study, students preparing for entrance to schools of medicine, dentistry, law, pharmacy, optometry, veterinary medicine or other fields are advised to earn a baccalaureate degree in an appropriate field of study.

For more information contact the BSU Office of Admissions at call (218) 755-2040 or visit the admissions website.