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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences



Alexandra Kushnir Alexandra Kushnir

School of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Agricultural Systems Management
Ravenna, Italy, Emilia-Romagna

2024 Distinguished Senior Award Recognition Reception Program (.pdf) 

2024 Distinguished Senior Award Recipient Reception Poster (.pdf) 

Alexandra Kushnir arrived at Ohio State from Italy as a member of the Women’s Rowing Team, with a plan to become a Landscape Architect. An Environmental Sciences course sparked her curiosity and helped this first generation college student envision a new path.

As a student-athlete, Alexandra learned the challenges and benefits of teamwork and honed her time management skills. She said, “Rowing also taught me resilience and patience. Long-term goals require sacrifice and consistency, even on bad days.

Moving from a design focus to STEM pushed her “out of her comfort zone” and encouraged her to connect with people who shared her interests, which led her to a semester of classes and volunteer opportunities at Stone Lab on Lake Erie. Alexandra grew up around water, along the coasts of Italy, and then became a rower. She said, “Being able to conduct research to improve the quality of this precious resource was rewarding.” She realized she wanted to pursue a career in water quality-related research.

That autumn, she began working at the Gray Lab on the Columbus campus. She made great friends and learned about networking, scientific writing, presenting research projects, and applying to internships and graduate school.

The following summer, Alexandra was selected for the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Stone Lab where she worked in the Water Quality Lab with Dr. Justin Chaffin. She conducted her own research project and presented the results. Previously, she feared public speaking. She was so proud of her work, she found the confidence to share it. The Ohio State marketing team interviewed her, and a video is available on the website.

In addition to multiple water sampling trips on the research vessels, she worked on a trial testing a treatment technology with water from Grand Lake St. Marys, known for harmful algal blooms. She connected with Dr. Rachel Gabor and began working in the Hydrobiogeochemistry Lab on campus when her REU ended. She presented her research during one of their annual meetings and during the 2024 Evening with Ohio State’s Stone Laboratory and Olentangy River Wetlands Winter event.

Alexandra said Dr. Suzanne Gray has been an important mentor who “provided helpful insights and new perspectives that helped me in both academia and my personal life. I could never thank her enough for the support that she provided me. She really cares about each of her students and encourages people to pursue their dreams.” Dr. Gray also speaks highly of Alexandra, “She is a role model for other students wishing to pursue rigorous programs of study while having huge extracurricular commitments.”

Alexandra intends to pursue a master’s degree and PhD in water quality, focusing on the biological factors affecting marine and freshwater ecosystems, and cyanobacterial blooms and phycology (study of algae).

Service, involvement, and accolades: Lake Erie Research Network, undergraduate student representative | Students Advocating for Food Equity | Leadership of Environmental Athletes for Sustainability, co-president | Academic All-Big Ten Honor Award | Ohio State Scholar Athlete Honor Award | Intro to Design Studio Prize | Dean’s List

Alexandra Kushnir - Press Release

Alexandra Kushnir - Photo Album