Sticking with Science

Zachary Kowash | Class of 2024 | Klamath Falls, OR

BioResource Research | URSA Engage

My Options

As a BioResource Research major, I am afforded a wide range of opportunities to customize my college academic experience through the major's multiple options. Even though I've been at Oregon State a short time, holding an option in Toxicology has allowed me to gain experience across various colleges, and has allowed me to make connections throughout the university. I was fortunate enough to participate in the URSA Engage program, in which I was connected with my research mentor Dr. Molly Kile in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, working on a project that looks at the interplay of chemical exposures and adverse childhood experiences on a child's cognitive development during their preschool years.


As an undergraduate on the data collector team, I work directly with the kids in schools by taking measures of their cognitive development and benchmarks through a variety of tests. Easily the most valuable and interesting part of these experiences is simply involvement in research; learning the process of research, and assisting in an ongoing project I am actively contributing, everything has been an amazing experience to be a part of, especially as an undergraduate.

One Foot in Each Camp

I was able to gain hands-on experience in Toxicology through the College of Ag Sciences this past summer, where I was able to intern in the lab of Dr. Kim Anderson through the Fang Introduction to Toxicology Undergraduate Summer Internship. The internship allows students to work in labs of various faculty of their choosing in the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology at Oregon State. I wanted to join the lab of Dr. Anderson of my experience with the silicone wristband passive sampling technology invented here at Oregon State, as I had worked on a project under Dr. Molly Kile that utilized the wristband technology to study flame retardant exposure in children. Seeing and participating in the other side of public health research was valuable in visualizing just how much effort from so many parties goes into the research process. The experience in Dr. Anderson's lab has led me to keep pursuing toxicology, and hopefully, through my "one foot in each camp" approach to toxicology and public health, I'll be able to combine them as my career and academics progress.

Never Say No

My advice for new students is to never say no to an opportunity. Coming into college, that was my mantra. I didn't say no to going to a College of Science meet-and-greet that first week, and I met friends that will probably be sticking around till at least the end of college, and best case for the rest of my life. I didn't say no to applying for opportunities that I might've been too young for, but I never would've been awarded those opportunities if I didn't try them out. 

Discover Yourself

College is a huge change for a lot of people, and it is a great place to discover what makes you tick; never saying no to an opportunity was a great way to figure out what I loved to do, and what I did not love to do. It leads me to discover a passion for leadership and serving the greater community that I may reside in through these leadership positions and making an impact outside of my small circle. College is what you make of it, so make it a good time!