Promote and Protect Public Health

Faces: MacKenzie Allison cover

MacKenzie Allison | B.S. BioHealth Science | Eugene, OR | Class of 2023

@Kenz.allison | 1st Place Undergraduate Poster Presentation at PANWAT 2022

Best Overall Undergraduate Poster at EMT Research Day Symposium 2023

Crafty Cat Lover

I am a very crafty person and find myself currently passionate about crocheting. I also enjoy baking and making memories with my three younger siblings. I have a polydactyl cat named Carter that is also a massive part of my life, and I bring him up anytime I get the chance.


I got my associate's at Lane Community College, and in the summer between finishing at Lane and beginning at OSU, I participated in the University of Oregon's (UO) Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) where I worked in Alice Barkan's lab. Right after completing the SPUR at the UO, I joined OSU’s STEM leaders program. This program allowed me to learn about the resources available to underrepresented students in STEM like myself, and it taught me how to form professional relationships and connect with faculty with the intent to join a research lab. This program led me to work in Dr. Susan Tilton’s environmental and molecular toxicology lab in January 2022; I have worked there since.

Research into Reality

I participated in the Fang summer internship with Dr. Tilton’s lab, where I completed a project on the comparative toxicity of parent and alkylated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in primary human bronchial epithelial cells. This project reinforced my interest in expanding my knowledge and participating in research after graduation. The Fang summer internship allowed me to present my research at the Environmental and Molecular Toxicology Undergraduate Celebration of Excellence in Toxicology, where I gave my poster and a flash talk. The internship also allowed me to present at the 2022 Pacific Northwest Association of Toxicologists (PANWAT) conference, where I received the first-place award for an undergraduate poster presentation. I have also received a request from Oregon Undergraduate Research Journal (OURJ) to publish my research in their upcoming journal. I have been able to utilize my late-found interest in research and turn it into a reality by completing a project recognized by the Society of Toxicology in less than a year. During my first year at Oregon State, I took public health courses for the first time and immediately found myself engrossed in the concepts. This interest initially drew me to ask Dr. Tilton to join her lab as I saw a strong connection between the research conducted in her lab and how it can be used to promote and protect environmental and human health.

Monumental Opportunities

My experience in the Tilton lab has been monumental for my time in AgSci and has allowed me many opportunities. As stated previously, the STEM leaders program brought me to Susan Tilton's lab, but I found her by looking up research being done at OSU and contacted her after reading about the research her lab did. My time in the UO's SPUR program was also huge for me developing a love for research and working in a lab.

I hope to continue into a career involved in research, and while I'm not sure exactly what that will entail, possibly a master's or doctoral program in public health/toxicology. AgSci has given me many opportunities to network and present the research I have done, which is invaluable for my future regardless of my path.

Niching Down

I have had a great experience at OSU and no problems during my time in AgSci! I don’t have any areas where I see that the college has lacked for me, personally! I do wish I would have known how many more niche options there were than the overarching major they fall into, and I wish I would have explored those areas earlier on! I also urge people to reach out to faculty they see doing things that they are interested in, even if it is outside of research because you never know what kind of doors that connection can open for you.

Newfound Motivation

The loss of my mother was monumental in my perspective on life. I lost my mother and had newfound guardianship of my three younger siblings months before beginning college. This has impacted me daily, but I have never thought of giving up or taking a break as an option. I instead used my siblings as a new motivation, not only by working towards a career to provide for them, but also showing them that they can do whatever they put their minds to, no matter what setbacks or challenges they face on their journey to achieve it.