School of Environment and Natural Resources
Forestry, Fisheries, and Wildlife - Honors
A natural student throughout her life, Katherine Oriyo was not accustomed to being challenged by academic coursework. As such, her most valuable learning experience came when she enrolled in General Chemistry in the spring of her freshman year. The notoriously difficult class had her on the verge of feeling overwhelmed, but she decided to persevere after an inspiring conversation with her mother. Learning to fight through adversity would prove the most valuable lesson of Katherine’s undergraduate career.
Katherine would utilize this lesson when carrying out her undergraduate research project. As a member of Dr. Suzanne Gray’s aquatic physiology ecology lab, Katherine spent two years studying the taxonomy and behavior of fish. Originally slated to unfold over 2020 and 2021, Katherine’s independent research project revolved around comparing reaction distance responses in relation to turbidity increases in the invasive Lake Erie Round Goby and native Bluegill Sunfish. During the logistical planning phase of her research, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the closure of the Gray Lab as well as OSU’s Stone Lab at Put-in-Bay on Lake Erie, precipitating a cascade of changes to Katherine’s research plans over the coming semesters. Maintaining her perseverance and adaptability, Katherine amended her project, shifting its focus to comparing Bluegill and Green Sunfish in central Ohio. The lesson in flexibility was a valuable one. As Katherine reflected, “When completing a research project of any sort anything can happen. Doing research work requires a lot of trial and error and it’s why having people to work with is invaluable. I am so glad and thankful for all the support I have had during the entire process and being able to finish my thesis and defend it before I graduate.”
As a member of the student chapter of OSU’s Fish and Wildlife Society, Katherine had the opportunity to network with fellow aspiring wildlife biologists, participating in volunteer experiences promoting sustainability including invasive species removals.
Katherine would like to recognize the mentorship of Dr. Suzanne Gray. She shared, “Dr. Gray has been a major influential figure during my undergraduate career since our meeting as she has been a stellar example of working as a woman in STEM research who worked hard to make me feel welcome and included in the lab. Having Dr. Gray as my mentor for these past two years has connected me to a fantastic figure to learn from and allowed me to meet so many other aspiring environmental scientists as well. I am grateful to be fortunate enough to work with her and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the both of us.”
After graduation, Katherine plans to step away from formal schooling for a year to explore her interests and expand her professional experience through internships. Eventually, she hopes to pursue a career focused on aquatic animal research, but desires to acquire a breadth of experiences in the meantime.
Service, involvement, and accolades: Fish and Wildlife Society, OSU Student Chapter | Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program | Best Food Forward | STEP Program | Ohio State Environmental Professionals Network Signature Event: Women in Conservation | CFAES Committee for OSU’s 150th Anniversary, student board member