Jennifer (Jen) Westendorf grew up on a farm outside of Melrose, Minnesota, and graduated from Melrose High School, where she lettered in basketball and volleyball. She attended UMN Morris from 1987–91 and graduated with degrees in biology and chemistry.
Westendorf earned her PhD from Mayo Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (Rochester, Minnesota) in 1996, and then moved to Tennessee for postdoctoral training. She returned to Minnesota in 2000 after accepting a faculty position at University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. In 2007, she returned to Rochester to lead a research laboratory that focuses on skeletal regeneration at Mayo Clinic.
She is currently a professor of orthopedics and biochemistry and molecular biology and serves as chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She was honored to receive the UMM Distinguished Alumni Award in 2022.
In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, reading, and watching Minnesota college and professional sports.