Westendorf earned degrees in biology and chemistry from UMN Morris in 1991 and earned her PhD in biomedical sciences from Mayo Clinic Graduate School. She then performed postdoctoral training at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Vanderbilt University.
Westendorf returned to Mayo Clinic to lead a NIH-funded research laboratory focused on the molecular and epigenetic mechanisms of bone and joint formation, degeneration, regeneration, and tumorigenesis. Her research, teaching, and mentoring activities have contributed to important advances in the study and treatment of bone diseases such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and bone cancers. She has published approximately 150 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters and edited two textbooks.
Westendorf has received numerous professional awards including the V Scholar Award from The V Foundation for Cancer Research, The Fuller Albright Award from the ASBMR, the Dean’s Recognition Award from the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and the Women’s Leadership Award from the ORS. She has volunteered her time to train the next generation of biomedical scientists and advocate for equity, inclusion, and diversity (EID). She is a leader of EID at Mayo Clinic and in 2019 led a national task force on EID in her profession field of orthopedic research. She has and continues to hold numerous volunteer roles in national and international professional societies.
Sharon Schneider ’91, in her nomination of Westendorf for this award, shared that she has followed Jennifer’s career with “respect and admiration,” finding her to be “an incredibly intelligent, accomplished, ethical, humble, and generous person who embodies the characteristics worthy of this honor.” Dr. Westendorf’s professional accomplishments, professional service, advocacy for equity, inclusion, and diversity, and support of UMN Morris lend evidence of this assessment.
In gratitude for the UMN Morris education that laid a foundation for her career, Westendorf features her degree proudly on her extensive curriculum vitae and continues to be a strong supporter and advocate of the campus.