Jose Toledo

Mechanical Engineering

Research Involvement:

"I conducted research on single point incremental forming of polymers and laminates for two years at ATAMI. It was an amazing opportunity to get exposed to all manufacturing machines and graduate students."


Advice for future STEM Leaders:

"My advice is to not stress about the small things. You can only grow from failure. College is an experience where you are going to fail multiple times. You are going to get knock down, but you are going to get back up and keep pushing through!"

"My freshman year was a very stressful year because I did not know how to manage my time well. STEM Leaders program guided me through time management strategies. Also big shout out to Sophie for always keeping me motivated through both my freshman and sophomore year of college. Lastly, I got the opportunity to be a mentor which enhanced my leadership skills."


"When I first started with OSU and this program, I was majoring in Chemistry. I was able to join the toxicology lab ran by Staci Simonich. It was an amazing experience to see the professionalism and skill it took to perform their research. I shadowed the three out of the five graduates, all who had different projects, to gain more information and experience. I had not reached a point to take on my own research but was able to assist in setting up and running samples of their projects. It was a great experience that I will keep with me moving forward. 

This program not only helped me in the professional sense but socially as well. I was able to meet so many amazing friends and peers as well as connections with faculty that became mentors about school and research but also about life. Having the chance to be a part of a research team taught me so much about professionalism, being straightforward, and what it is like to network. I think the program is amazing in having those who are underrepresented to be heard and seen and given the chance to enter into the field they want to be a part of. It is so important to make these fields of research and study more inclusive. I am both proud and happy to be from the very first cohort."

Taylor Norman


Research Involvement:

Toxicology Lab 


Advice for future STEM Leaders:

"The best advice I received was to always ask questions, no matter how it makes you feel. If you don't understand or know what to do, ask. It can be hard to learn how to be that vulnerable but it will benefit you in the end for all situations. For research and finding what you would be interested in, take your time and reach out to the faculty to learn more about the labs you think would help you in your undergraduate career. Good luck in all your endeavors and never give up! Your effort will pay off!"

Victoria Jansen

Post-Bacc Student

Research Involvement:

OSU's Wheat Quality Program with Dr. Andrew Ross


Advice for future STEM Leaders:

"Take advantage of the opportunities STEM Leaders provides, including the relationships you develop with your mentors. Working with Dr. Ross was by far one of the most important experiences I had at OSU."

"STEM Leaders opened up opportunities to me I never could have imagined starting my freshman year of college. As a passionate bread baker in high school, I had no clue that OSU could offer me the opportunity to spend 4 years in the OSU Wheat Quality Lab doing research on flour, whole-grains, sourdough, and how crop/food-science research could tie into my interests in food justice. Through my work in the lab, I had the opportunity to meet many prominent individuals in the whole-grain/local grain communities, bread bakers from around the world, travel to conferences, and present/talk to millers and bakers across the country about my research.

I think the two biggest things STEM Leaders gave me were 1) the push into undergraduate research and 2) the knowledge that research can cover so many things! Because of my time doing research via the STEM Leaders program in the Wheat Quality Lab, I eventually found myself a part of OSU's Food, Culture, and Social Justice Intercultural Community program and got to share my research with professors and community members from Ecuador as well as set up an entire day of learning for the Ecuadorian members here in Oregon all about local whole grain systems."

"STEM Leaders has been a great resource for me during my time here at OSU. I came in not knowing all of the different paths I could take relating to animal science. I was able to find the Human-Animal Interaction lab and work as a research assistant. From this experience, I was introduced to the study of animal behavior, and I was able to change my option and begin learning and making connections around this subject. I’ve been able to stay in contact with the members of the lab over the years and assist with various projects.

I’ve gained confidence, professionalism, and networking that I wouldn’t have expected to receive during my 4 years here. I was also able to learn about the research process and mentor freshman students, passing on some tips and knowledge. I am so grateful for the mentors and guidance I have been given by the faculty members of STEM Leaders. This program has helped to make my college experience engaging and has set me up for future success."


Advice for future STEM Leaders:

"I would advise future STEM Leaders to fully explore your options. I was not aware of all the paths I could take and being able to work in a lab in any department allowed me to search and look around. It may be smart to try something that isn’t exactly aligned with your plans and you may be surprised to find an interest in something new! I wasn’t aware of the animal behavior option in my major and once I joined the lab and was able to give it a shot, I made connections and found other career paths to look into. 

I would also advise students to use all resources available to them. This school is filled with mentors and connections that are willing to help you financially, mentally, and with future career aspirations. You don’t have to struggle through these 4 years on your own, and having a support system has helped me tremendously."

Champayne Master

Animal Science with an option in Animal Behavior and a minor in Marine Conservation and Management

Research Involvement: 

Human-Animal Interaction Lab

Carolina Guillen

Post-Bacc Student

Research Involvement:

Dr. Rochefort's Lab


"I remember the summer when I received a phone call regarding the STEM Leaders program. Before then, doing research had never occurred to me. STEM Leaders provided me with the opportunity to do research since my freshman year in college. I will forever be thankful for this opportunity since it awoke a passion of mine, research. Through research, I was able to connect with other engineering students, faculty, industry partners, and even travel to present my research at multiple conferences. Not only that, but it also boosted my confidence in many senses, especially in public speaking. It helped me develop my skills in organization, communication, problem-solving, leadership, accountability, and many more useful skills. It sparked my curiosity to learn more and explore other areas of interest of mine such as rehabilitation engineering and the pharmaceutical industry. I will forever be thankful for my STEM Leaders family, and all the opportunities, support, and resources that they've provided me with throughout my time at OSU. Another aspect that I really enjoy is the giving back aspect; I love having the opportunity to be a mentor for first-year college students and first-year transfer students. I've always found great mentors along my life, so being able to be a positive and resourceful mentor for other students makes me really happy."