Annika N. Diaz
Department of Animal Sciences
Animal Sciences - Animal Biosciences
Before starting her freshman year, Annika Diaz participated in a 3-week bridge program through the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation in STEM (LSAMP), which equipped a cohort of 20 underrepresented minority students in STEM with numerous resources for success in college. She distinctly remembers being the last person in the room during her chemistry exam and feeling like she was going to fail her whole chemistry course if she stayed on that track. Despite these feelings, Annika was excited for college and utilized every resource suggested to her, including free tutoring, while actively attending office hours and engaging in peer mentor relationships. Upon completion of her first semester, she finished with a newfound love for chemistry and a potential career in STEM education outreach. She credits LSAMP for providing the confidence to pursue the opportunities she has had at Ohio State.
Annika’s San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (ICR) internship was a key opportunity for her to learn more about her chosen field. As a Patricia Beckman Summer Student Fellow on the Disease Investigations Team, Annika worked on an epidemiological study assessing potential etiologies in an outbreak of snake spinal osteopathy in the zoo collection. Working at the San Diego Zoo taught her the true value of building a strong network. Many employers and even graduate school admissions committees have since been very interested in her experience. Through her time at ICR, she gained numerous skills in both molecular virology and epidemiological research, which have already proven useful in several lab settings and will continue to be vital throughout her career.
Annika recognized Ms. Mariette Benage as her mentor. Annika says, “Mariette has been a mentor for me prior to even joining the Buckeye family. She was a driving factor in my decision to attend OSU, as she showed me that I could truly benefit from all the Department of Animal Sciences had to offer. Once arriving on campus, it wasn’t long before she became my academic advisor and someone whom I could trust to always have my best interests in mind. Mariette went above and beyond to put me in contact with Dr. Anastasia Vlasova, setting the foundation for my interest in pursuing virology research. Further, Mariette has welcomed me with open arms every step of the way, encouraging me to pursue my big goals and always being there to serve as an incredibly strong recommender. Mariette never gave up on me and always pushed me to pursue my full potential.”
After graduation, Annika will be moving to Ithaca, NY, to start graduate school in the Biomedical and Biological Sciences Ph.D. program at Cornell University. She will have a concentration in Immunology and Infectious Disease, with a focus on studying viral zoonoses.
Service, involvement, and accolades: Animal Science Community Alliance, member-teaching assistant, president | SPHINX Senior Class Honorary, chaplain | Scientific Thinkers Student Organization, treasurer | Bucket and Dipper Junior Class Honorary, inductions chair | ROMOPHOS Sophomore Class Honorary, selections chair | CFAES Peer Mentor | Biological Sciences Scholars Program