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Professional photo of Theodore Zavalas in a suit

Meet a Science Grad: Theodore Zava

By College of Science

The following interview is part of a series the College of Science conducted with some of our alumni. While their experiences and career paths vary widely, their passion for science and love for the College and OSU tie them together.

Theodore Zava

Major: Biology, minor in Chemistry (’09)
Occupation: ICP-MS Supervisor/Research Associate, ZRT Laboratory

Why did you choose to study at OSU?

I have always enjoyed laboratory related work and finding out how things work at the micro- and macroscopic level.

How did the College of Science prepare you for your future career?

Discipline. College of Science courses were challenging, but also rewarding.

Describe your career. How are you making a difference?

I develop, validate and commercialize clinical laboratory developed tests using dried samples that can be collected and stabilized at home for shipment at ambient conditions back to the laboratory for analysis.

What would people be surprised to learn about your profession?

I am actively collaborating with government organizations and universities on different projects. I recently submitted a COVID-19 dried blood spot IgG antibody assay for FDA Emergency Use Authorization. I have been the first author on multiple published papers, including one that ranks in the 99th percentile for access and citations.

Was there a particular professor or advisor who made an impact in your undergraduate career?

Christopher Marshall (entomology) and Kevin Ahern (biochemistry) due to their passion and deep understanding of what they teach.

Share a favorite memory of your time in the College of Science.

I really enjoyed the entomology (study of insects) course I took. I found it fascinating, and it involved spending time outside.

What did you do for fun to de-stress from schoolwork?

Bombs Away Cafe for live music. Hikes around campus and Marys Peak. Fishing the Alsea River.

What advice would you share to current College of Science students?

Have a graduation plan. Know what/when/where classes are offered and what is required for graduation. I was able to graduate early this way. Also, take a wide variety of classes. You never know what direction they may take you. Do you, and don't worry about what others think.