Owen Washam

Spring 2020


Degree: Bachelor of Science


  • Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
  • Plant Biology

Graduation Honors: Cum Laude

How are you planning to use your degree?

Earning bachelor’s degrees in Horticultural Science and Plant Biology are part of my long term plan to be broadly educated in plant science. The NC State Horticulture program offers the unique opportunity to specialize in Biotechnology and Plant Breeding, which enables students like me to focus heavily on science and research. It prepares students to take advantage of the booming plant biotechnology sector North Carolina offers, in industry or at one of many NC State/NCDA research stations. After completing my Master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, I plan to return to North Carolina with the goal of pursuing a career conducting applied research in agriculture.

List clubs and activities while in school.

  • Pi Alpha Xi
  • JC Raulston Arboretum
  • Water Polo
  • Plogging Club
  • RBC Run Club
  • North Carolina Native Plant Society
  • American Phytopathological Society
  • Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Whom do you want to thank?

I would like to first thank my parents and family, always showing their love and support. Even when I spent my college summers working the fields of North Carolina and New York, they were often 500 miles away and our visits in Ohio were limited to a few days a year. The cards, care packages, phone calls, mailed baked goods, and Chipoltle gift cards were always appreciated. You were the first ones to show me the rewards of honest hard work, and instilled my love for the outdoors. I would also like to thank the Department faculty and students. From Mills River to Raleigh – the faculty, my advisors and teachers, my graduate and undergraduate peers always supported my endeavors and pushed me to reach my potential. I would specifically like to thank Dr. Ricardo Hernandez, Inga Meadows, Dr. Tom Ranney, and Dr. Mark Hoffmann for supporting me as I engaged in a variety of undergraduate research projects in their respective programs.

What is the best thing about studying horticulture at NC State?

The faculty and students! No other department boasts lecturers as enthusiastic and dedicated as those within Kilgore. Each course is inclusive of all learning styles – from working in Fox greenhouses in plant propagation, studying landscape design in the studios, to field trips to the arboretum in ornamental plant ID. The students come from a variety of backgrounds, each brings something different to the classroom. Many of my closest friends hail from the horticulture program at NC State. Never is there a dull moment at departmental hangouts, even at zoom meetings in recent weeks!

LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/owwasham

Where are you currently working? Graduate RA; UW-Madison

Advisor Comments (Lee Ivy): https://youtu.be/gK6KCT0-uPs


Washam Water Polo











Mark Hoffman (Horticulture Faculty):
Owen is truly an outstanding student in every regard. He not only has achieve two B.S. degrees (one in Horticultural Sciences and one in Plant Biology), he also was actively engaged in plant pathology research and attended international conferences during is time as student at NC State. Owen has published peer-reviewed publications, gave presentation at conferences and was admitted into the Cornell Summer Scholar program in Geneva NY in 2019. He will continue as a master student at the University of Wisconsin, following his passion of plant pathology.

Owen worked in my group for two years, he has implemented and developed pathogen assessment assays that are now standard procedures in our lab. Owen is co-author on two manuscripts as result of his work in our lab. Owen was an active member of our group, and participated in multiple lab-meetings and social activities. We all wish him the best on his path forward, knowing that he will continue to be an outstanding and much appreciated graduate student.

Will Hembree:
So proud of you Owen, your dedication and hard work were second to none in everything I had the pleasure of watching you do throughout your time between Mills River and Raleigh. Onwards to great things! Yad

Michelle Long:

Whitney McCurry:
Congratulations Owen! I am so proud of you and can’t wait to hear about your successes in graduate school. I’m incredibly grateful I ran into a friend and colleague like you. Cheers!

Jeff Gill
Congratulations Owen. It is great to see you are going to grad school. Good luck!

Lis Meyer (Hort Teaching Faculty)
Congrats Owen! Thanks for being an excellent truck boss this year for PAX, and for all your work in the department in general. Looking forward to seeing you grow on your next adventure! (Also, I still don’t have one of those Mtn Hort hats, and I’m still jealous. Just sayin.)

Xiaonan Shi
Congrats Owen! It’s been a great pleasure to work with you in Mark’s lab. I had much fun harvesting strawberries and grapes and pruning grape vines with you :)! I’m impressed by your independence on research and broad interest and great passion on agriculture! Good luck with your new master chapter in Wisconsin! And I look forward to having you back in the future!

Brian Schulker
Congrats Owen!! Although the PAX year was shortened, it was awesome being able to work with you throughout the year! I know you are determined and impressively independent in your research, and wish you all the best in your next chapter for your masters degree! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you, I know you can do it!

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Owen Washam