Alumnus Kurt Stromberg is Driven to Improve Lives

Throughout his life, Kurt Stromberg (M.S. 1998) has been driven to use research as a tool to help society. Today Stromberg is using that motivation to create new medical therapies and devices in his role as senior principal statistician at Medtronic.

Stromberg designs, implements and analyzes clinical trials designed to test the safety and effectiveness of implantable medical devices for treating heart rhythm disorders and congestive heart failure; something he attributes to his roots in plant pathology. 

From an early age Stromberg was exposed to plant pathology, since his father worked with the USDA-APHIS and was an adjunct professor with the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota from 1977-1981. 

Plant Pathology Alumnus Kurt Stromberg“I was probably the only kindergartner to ever say they wanted to be a plant pathologist when they grew up, even though I probably didn’t even know what plant pathology was at the time,” says Stromberg.

Plant pathology became even more fascinating to Stromberg as he grew older and was more closely associated with the field. After completing a B.S. in biology from the College of William Mary, Stromberg felt it was a natural fit to apply to the Plant Pathology Graduate Program at the University of Minnesota because of his strong interest in biology and solving real-world research problems.

“One of the things that really intrigued me about plant pathology and why I made the decision to come here for graduate school, was that it was research with a purpose, and that it could make the world a better place,” Stromberg says.

While Stromberg currently spends his time designing and conducting experiments to test novel medical therapies, it was his time in plant pathology that allowed him to not only be a successful statistician, but a successful scientist.

“My education in plant pathology had everything to do with helping me prepare for what I'm doing today. First and foremost, my faculty advisers Linda Kinkel and Kurt Leonard showed me how to conduct rigorous real-world scientific research, and as a statistician it is so important to bring that research-based experience to the table. In addition, Kinkel was instrumental in developing my interest in statistics through her own experiences, and her advice to take several statistics courses and learn a statistical programming language has helped me immensely in my current role.”