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May 16th, 2017

Research Tech by Day, ‘Jessicutioner’ by Night

By In the Loop

During the day, Jessica Dorschner works to advance Mayo Clinic’s lupus-related research. At night, however, she transforms into the ‘Jessicutioner’ for the MedCity Mafia Roller Derby Team, for whom she’s played the past three seasons ... alongside a few other of her colleagues at Mayo Clinic.

Jessica Dorschner spends her days working on lupus research. At night she transforms into the 'Jessicutioner' for local roller derby team.


Jessica Dorschner spends her days looking for ways to advance Mayo Clinic's lupus research. "A lot of my job is processing the samples that we bring in for the studies that we do," Dorschner, a rheumatology/immunology research technologist, tells us. "I take the blood and separate it, freeze it, and then do experiments with it." It's work she considers important — so important that it's never far from her mind. Even when she leaves work and takes on a different persona: The Jessicutioner.

Dorschner — a lifelong runner and rollerblader — is a member of MedCity Mafia Roller Derby, Rochester's favorite roller derby team. She's just one of 13 Mayo Clinic staff involved in the local roller derby scene.

As the Rochester Post-Bulletin recently reported, the number on the back of Dorschner's roller derby uniform — 702 — is an homage to a strain of bacteria she spent a lot of time getting to know during graduate school. "I studied that strain — it was a lot of years in my life," she tells the paper.

Jessica Dorschner

Photo by Bob Cox.

Dorschner tells us she initially suited up with the MedCity Mafia as "a good way to stay in shape." But now into her third season, she says it's the friendships with her teammates that keep her coming back. At first she was unsure of that ever happening. "When I joined the team, my first concern was whether these women were going to be really tough and unfriendly."

We can understand why. The team's roster reveals players with names like "Loose Kannen," "Green Eggs & Slam," "Knock Knock Knuckles," "Steel Savage," "Smash!Squatch" and "The Coroner." As intimidating as those "derby names" are, however, Dorschner tells us the women behind them are not. When they're off the rink, anyway. "Everyone on the team is amazing," she says.

Dorschner knew if she truly wanted to fit in with her new team, she'd need a catchy "derby name" of her own. For that, she turned to her husband, who also happens to be a league referee. "It's really hard to think of a good derby name, especially one that sounds like 'Jessica Dorschner,'" she tells us. "So when my husband came up with 'Jessicutioner," I thought, 'I'll just go with it.'"

While the P-B reports that "to the untrained eye, roller derby can look chaotic," Dorschner says it's anything but. "It's not random hits and brawling," she tells the paper. "We do a lot of formations and strategies. That's what has kept me with it, the women and the strategies."

The team has three bouts remaining on its 2017 schedule. Dorschner tells us those who attend the team's May 20 bout against the S.C.A.R. Dolls or its June 24 season finale against the Fargo Moorhead Derby Girls will be in for a treat. "Roller derby's a real sport. That's mainly what we'd like first-time fans to know," she says. "It is a real thing and we keep it very family-friendly." (Despite what some of the derby names might suggest.)

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Tags: Employee Stories, Jessica Dorschner, Lupus Research

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