Heather Masson-Forsythe

During 2021, Heather Masson-Forsythe (21’ Ph.D.) was researching COVID-19, finishing her Ph.D., and pirouetting in the forest. Dancing in the forest? That’s right, in addition to her other stellar achievements this year, Heather also won an international dance competition.

As many future grad students do, Heather applied to OSU not knowing exactly what research she wanted to conduct. She ended up working in the Elisar Barbar lab, where she and other grad students used various biochemical and biophysical techniques to study protein structures and dynamics and protein interactions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she applied for and received a grant to research the nucleocapsid (N) protein of SARS-CoV-2.⠀

While a doctoral student, she received financial support through a position as a graduate teaching assistant and a part-time Ph.D. internship at Hewlett Packard in Corvallis. In her final year, she was funded by the National Science Fund, allowing her to focus on research full-time.⠀

Heather won several awards during her time as a graduate student. One of the awards was when she turned her COVID-19 research into a dance and submitted it to the annual “Dance Your Ph.D.'' international contest hosted by Science Magazine. She was elated when she won the COVID-19 category in 2021.⠀

Some of her favorite memories in grad school were hanging with her colleagues at random parties and having fun, like dancing in the lab. She also loves to explain research to a wide variety of audiences and acted as a micro-influencer during her Ph.D. During grad school, she also worked on the podcast, radio show, and blog Inspiration Dissemination. She interviewed many interesting graduate students from OSU about their research.⠀

Heather is interested in getting a job that involves more science writing and science communication. In the future, she wants to transition into the marketing or business side of science, working as a part of a startup or in science policy work.⠀