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CAHNRS Department of Horticulture Genomics Lab

Undergraduate – Payden Waldo

Payden Waldo


Your name and what is/was your background (what is your major, why science, etc)?
My name is Payden Waldo, I am from Corvallis, Oregon, and I am a junior in Chemical Engineering at Washington State University. I chose science, and, specifically, chemical engineering because I love to cook in my spare time, and chemical engineering seemed like cooking on a large scale. I also picked Chemical Engineering because it gave me the tools and confidence I need to effect change in the modern day world.

Why did you decide to join a research lab? How did the experience compare to what you had expected?
I joined a research lab because I wanted to apply what I had learned in the classroom to research. Although Chemical Engineering and Horticulture do not seem to coalesce easily there was great potential to implement what I had learned into the projects in Dr. Dhingra’s lab. I was able to view our bioreactor as a system and logically design its physical features. The lab experience was everything I had expected and a little more. I did expect to work with experts in their fields and that is what I got. I expected to work with an adequate budget and I ended up receiving far more fiscal support that I expected. Working within a group in the lab was everything I was expecting, I was able to lead a very competent group of various backgrounds in designing our bioreactor. What I did not expect was the great quality of tools and work space that was appropriated for our project. It was an awesome feeling to work within the confines of such a beautiful lab.

What was cool, exciting or most interesting about your time in the lab?
The most exciting part was finally seeing our prototype do what we built it to do. It was exciting to see months of design and calculations culminate into something that worked in the way we had designed it to.

If there is something in particular you learned or discovered that you’d like to share with others, please take a moment to tell us about it.
I learned quite a bit about the industry of young tree plants. I have worked in agriculture before but never in an orchard and it had never occurred to me that farmers who specialize in plants that become full grown trees are not privy to the speed and quick harvesting cycles that many other farmers enjoy. Farmers who grow apples, or cherries, or filberts are subject to a long early growth stage that requires a lot of time before fruit can be harvested. This is a problem that I hope our project can work to assuage in the real world.

If you would recommend conducting research in a science lab to others, what would you tell them to get them interested in the idea?
I would tell them that, unless they are pursuing a doctorate or masters degree, this is one of the few times in their life when they can take part in research, especially research of this caliber. I would explain that, in this lab, you can be part of real world research that aims at fixing big, real world problems.

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 worked at Universal Seed Company in Independence, Oregon this summer, and am a Junior studying Chemical Engineering at Washington State University, currently.

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 this lab showed me the many applications of my field and the spectrum of research that I could effectively take part in.

Was there anything in particular you would have liked us to do different to enhance your learning or interest from the time spent in the lab?
Not really, I felt like an important part of the lab and everything I needed was made readily available. It really was an honor to work in Dr. Dhingra’s lab.

Do you feel better prepared for the workplace or future academic endeavors as a result of your time in the lab?
Yes, I feel like this experience was vital for my career goals.

Any other comments?
It was a lot of fun, and an amazing first lab to work in. I thank you so much Dr. Dhingra.