Meet KCUS 2023 cohort

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New KCUS on the Block

The Knight Campus Undergraduate Scholars program is in full swing with its largest cohort yet.

The Knight Campus Undergraduate Scholars (KCUS) program is a comprehensive research experience designed to develop the next generation of leading researchers. The program immerses a cohort of students in a full year of research in a Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact affiliated lab, including labs that are members of our Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance at the University of Oregon.

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Alexandra Aeschliman is one of this year’s cohort of 20 members, KCUS’s largest cohort yet. She’s a biochemistry major with a minor in bioengineering from Beaverton who is set to graduate in 2026. Aeschliman is spending her year in the Benoit Lab working with her mentor, Guilherme Rocha. Her KCUS scholarship is sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific, one of several donors who fund the program.

“I applied to be a Knight Campus Undergraduate Scholar because I wanted to participate in biomedical research that will have powerful applications, within a state-of-the-art facility. I saw labs that were doing work with epigenetics, drug delivery systems, and neurological implants, any of which I would love to be involved with,” Aeschliman said. “KCUS fits with my future plans because I want to enter a PhD/MD program after undergrad. KCUS not only allows me to do actual biomedical research—something I want to do as a career—but also help me with networking and strategies for success in academia.”

Another member of this year’s cohort is Morrhyssey Benz, a biochemistry major with a minor in environmental studies from Denver who is set to graduate in 2024. Benz is being mentored by Jonathan Dorogin in the Hettiaratchi Lab and is sponsored by Dave and Nancy Petrone.

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“KCUS has provided me with the ability to converse with current scientists in the research field, where I was able to ask questions to better understand future career options. We also have had weekly meetings where I have learned more about academic research communities and scientific communication,” Benz said. “My next career goal is to attend graduate school so I can continue to pursue scientific research. The weekly meetings provide insight into this field, so I can be knowledgeable about my career choice. I am also grateful to do full-time research again in the summer, where I can experience what being a graduate student would be like.”

This fifth cohort reflects Knight Campus’ strong support for Oregon residents and for women in STEM. Sixty percent of the 2023 cohort is female and fifty percent of students are graduates of Oregon high schools. Additionally, half of this year’s group represent people of color as well as people who identify as more than one racial or ethnic group.

“We are excited to see this program continue to grow each year,” said Karl Reasoner, Senior Program Manager of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and director of the Knight Campus Undergraduate Scholars program. “This year’s cohort is our most diverse yet and represents our commitment to broadening participation in research.”

Members of this year’s cohort will present their research at the UO Undergraduate Research Symposium on May 25.

More about KCUS

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The 2023 KCUS Cohort
Meet all 20 members of this year's KCUS cohort and their mentors.

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The KCUS Program
Learn more about the KCUS program, including how to apply as a student and how to sponsor students.