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CAHNRS Department of Horticulture Genomics Lab

Undergraduate – KC McFerson

KC McFerson


Your name and what is/was your background (what is your major, why science, etc)?
Name: KC McFerson
Major: B.A. Philosophy, Seattle University, 2009; JD candidate, University of Oregon
Why Science: I was raised in a family and community centered on agriculture. I specialized in environmental philosophy in my undergraduate education and sought out opportunities to explore the intersection of agriculture, environmentalism, and rural communities. At the University of Oregon, I am studying environmental law with an eye toward agricultural policies that can mutually benefit agriculture, industry, and the environment.

Why did you decide to join a research lab? How did the experience compare to what you had expected?
I joined the research lab out of a love of environment and agriculture and a curiosity about technology development that could ease some of the tensions that can arise between the two.

What was cool, exciting or most interesting about your time in the lab?
The coolest aspect of the Dhingra lab was the fun, friendly and interactive community. All of the workers were genuinely interested in both their projects and each other.

If you would recommend conducting research in a science lab to others, what would you tell them to get them interested in the idea?
Science is a field that welcomes people from all disciplines. One of the first things I learned in the lab was that interdisciplinary work is the most effective way to create something new that works well, be it technology or policy. Working in the lab encouraged me to think in a more scientific way – a way different from my training in liberal arts. I learned to see issues not only from a theoretical or academic lens, but also from research, technology, and industry perspectives. This was invaluable to my project and also to my professional development.

We’d love to know what you’re up to, so please give us a brief description of where you are working or going to school now.
I am currently working on my law degree at the University of Oregon in Eugene. I will complete a joint degree, earning both a JD and a Master of Community and Regional Planning (expected 2014).

Did the lab experience help you with your classes or your perspective about science? Did working in the lab help you with developing other skills like time management or communication?
Working in the lab developed my time and project management skills. I wrote a paper on genetically modified organisms, which was a topic completely new to me. With excellent supervision, I was able to successfully research GMOs, interview WSU faculty, and complete a written project. Later, I was able to build on the scientific paper to create a policy overview and analysis for my philosophy honors thesis.

Do you feel better prepared for the workplace or future academic endeavors as a result of your time in the lab?
Working in the lab was an indispensible experience. As a philosophy major, I was initially intimidated. What I found, though, was that the Dhingra lab was a welcoming, fun, and driven group of brilliant individuals. Not only did I develop professional skills, but also I made some friends along the way.

Any other comments?
I miss Pullman!