There was nothing conventional about Dylan Gregory’s path to the Oregon State University Honors College. There’s been nothing conventional about his research accomplishments since he arrived, either.
A first-generation and low-income student, Dylan initially planned to study visual communications, enrolling in the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, Indiana after high school. Financial difficulties, however, forced him to drop out and move back home.
“Pretty quickly I realized that college was expensive, and being the first of my family to go to college, nobody really could advise me on how to navigate it, financially or academically,” he recalls.
Dylan took some time to regroup, living with his mom in Portland, working a job while figuring out his next steps in life. “To be honest, after I dropped out of art school, I felt like a failure,” he says. “After taking steps to better myself, I realized going back to school was the most important thing I could do.”
In 2016, he enrolled in Portland Community College as an environmental science major. There, he met a professor who inspired him to pursue research and biology.
“Her biggest piece of advice to me was to get as much research and internship experience as I could,” Dylan says. “So I made it a pretty strong point to do that.”
That commitment is what eventually drew him to Oregon State and the Honors College: the multitude of amazing opportunities for research.
Now, as a biology major with an option in genetics still a year and a half away from his anticipated graduation in spring 2021, he already has had several major research experiences, including work at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and a summer spent doing research at the University of California, San Diego. He is currently working with Dr. Virginia Weis, the chair of the Oregon State Department of Integrative Biology, studying the symbiotic-associated innate immunity genes of the sea anemone Exaiptasia pallida, research that will form the basis of his honors thesis.
This summer, with support from an Honors College Experience Scholarship, Dylan plans to attend an International Coral Reef Society conference in Bremen, Germany. There, he would have the opportunity to meet some of the world’s leading coral reef researchers and learn about the newest studies, skills, and methods in the field.
The path from Indianapolis to Corvallis has been a winding one, but Dylan is confident that he is just getting started.
“I’ve found so many opportunities to meet other passionate people, experience amazing places and work on some amazing projects that make a real impact in the world,” Dylan says. “I’m excited to spend the next year and a half having more of these experiences with OSU.”