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Alumni Successes

Alumni Successes

For our graduates, an Oregon State science education opens doors to many opportunities to protect the planet and improve society. At OSU, they sought out experiences, career training and connections that would help them prepare for a rewarding job and a meaningful future.

Below are just some of their accomplishments.

Bringing science to the world

Young Alumni Award: Excellence in neuroscience education

With her College of Science degree, Tari Tan (Biochemistry & Biophysics, ‘08) entered Harvard University, graduating with her Ph.D. in Neurobiology in 2016. She then began teaching an upper-division undergraduate course she created.

Alumni Awards: Raising the bar for diversity in the legal profession

Although at first glance the law and science are quite different, Hernández says they require many of the same skills. “I fall back on that methodical way of thinking and critical reasoning skills. Those are applicable in what I do day-to-day,” he said. “I think it prepared me well.”

Mathematics alum uses disease modeling to help keep OSU community safe

Peter Banwarth (M.S. mathematics ’12) is an epidemiologist and public health data scientist with the Benton County Health Department in Oregon. He has developed models to guide county health policies on testing, safety and health measures for employees and the public to minimize infections and deaths in Corvallis and nearby areas.

“A lot of what I do is really collaborative learning. I learn from the folks I work with, their side of things, and then I help them learn the mathematical and the data side of the work that they're doing,” he said.

Biology alumna at the forefront of migrant healthcare in Oregon during the Covid-19 pandemic

Dr. Eva Galvez’s (Biology ’99) family background and passion for holistic care have led her into migrant labor camps, radio stations, mobile clinics, and the world of public policy, but as a member of underrepresented groups, she wasn’t always sure these things would be possible for her.

While at OSU, she says she felt supported in her challenging courses, especially by her pre-medicine advisor who preached tough love and maintained high expectations that she knew Galvez could fulfill.

“I didn't have a lot of confidence in my math and my science abilities, but I had the desire. I had the drive, I had the passion, and I also had a lot of people along the way supporting me.”

Oregon State alum plays integral role in Perseverance landing on Mars

2005 physics alumna and planetary geologist Briony Horgan's research was key to determining the location on Mars for the Perseverance rover to explore.

Native to Portland, Oregon, Horgan fostered a passion for geology from an early age, surrounded by the unique geography of the Pacific Northwest throughout her childhood and undergraduate studies.

“Geology was something I absolutely loved because it explains how the world around us came to be over millions and billions of years,” Horgan said. “Doing that in space is even more interesting because the time scales are even more crazy. On Mars, we’re talking about 4 billion years of evolution that produced the rocks we see.”

Marine biology alumna develops tool to improve care for the giant Pacific octopus

Meghan Holst, a 2014 marine biology graduate and a biologist at the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco, co-developed a tool to help aquarists make difficult end-of-life decisions for giant Pacific octopuses, a popular species in aquariums across the U.S. Her experiences with the resident giant Pacific octopus at Oregon State’s Hatfield Marine Science Center was the catalyst for her eventual research impacting thousands of aquarists and the species they care for.

A passion for wildlife conservation: Zoologist takes care of a little bit of Africa

A zoology graduate from Oregon State University, Molly Cordell (’16) landed an internship at Safari West in Santa Rosa, California after graduation and was hired at the end of the internship.

The journey there was full of experiences, clubs and undergrad internships as she explored in which capacity she wanted to work with animals. Throughout those experiences, Jennifer Olarra, science advisor, was her constant encourager. “I swear that woman is a big part of me getting through college,” Cordell says. “She was always available to help. She would listen to what I was interested in and help me figure it out. She didn’t ever make me feel like I couldn’t do what I wanted to do.”

Meet a Science Grad - Drew Haven

Meet Drew Haven, physics and engineering physics graduate (’08) who has been active in the fields of crystal growth and scintillator engineering since 2009, and has been working on armor development since 2015 in his Reasearch and Development positions at Saint-Gobain Crystals and now, Luxium Solutions.

“Many people are surprised to hear about single crystal materials being an industry or profession, but in reality, they are a building block for a lot of different technologies. For example, your phone uses single crystal silicon for many of its components and likely has sapphire for the fingerprint sensor and/or outer camera lens,” he said.

Meet a Science Grad - Scott Rennie

Meet Scott Rennie, biology graduate and attorney at Schmidt & Yee, PC who says his “coursework in biology provided strong grounding in strictly applying facts and data to problems in search of answers.”

“In science,” said Rennie, “you quickly learn how to ignore noise or unsupported theories, which has helped my legal career.”

Rennie spent several years in genetic research before deciding to go to law school.

Meet a Science Grad: Samantha Lewis

Meet Samantha Lewis, 2008 zoology graduate and assistant professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of California - Berkeley.

“After graduating from OSU, I went to graduate school and then completed postdoctoral training. Now, I'm a professor, and I have the privilege of teaching the next generation of aspiring scientists in the classroom and in the laboratory. I hope to foster curiosity, diligence and enthusiasm among my students, which they can take with them into a variety of fields: industry, government, academia and beyond as citizen scientists,” she said.

Discover what opportunities await

As scientists, we are driven to understand the world around us, and it’s not always clear what that looks like in terms of a career.

But the best part about science? The major you choose does not limit your career options. It opens doors to satisfying careers in science, art, business, education, politics and beyond that you may not even be aware of. Our science career advisor can help you clarify your interests, skills and values, and connect them to possible majors or careers. Our Science Success Center team can also help you set goals, access helpful resources and develop a career plan.

You won’t know what you love to do unless you experiment a bit. So, whether you take a small step like signing up for a class or you dive head-first into an internship at a medical clinic in Spain, take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves and reach out!

Connect with an alumni

Oregon State is 31,000+ alumni strong. Leverage that network by searching for a mentor, an internship or employment connections with these tools: