Auburn agriculture senior finds success in his major
Do you know what applied biotechnology is?
Harrison Estes — a senior majoring in applied biotechnology — defines it as “the study and practice of genetic modification for industrial, medical and agricultural applications.”
The applied biotechnology major prepares students by providing the skills to solve tomorrow’s challenges today.
Set to graduate in May 2023, Estes is already planning to attend graduate school to pursue a doctorate in biology or a related discipline. Post-doc, he hopes to lean into the opportunities the ensured path provides him.
“It offers a flexible atmosphere that gives you the skills to go where you want,” he said.
Estes is one of the most involved students in the College of Agriculture at Auburn.
He is an active member of Ag Ambassadors, the president of the newly founded Agriculture Research Ambassadors — a collaborative effort to provide undergraduate students with the means to become involved in research — and serves as president of the Applied Biotechnology Society.
“Applied Biotechnology Society is an organization that brings in speakers from across campus and the nation in industry and academia to talk about various topics within the broad field of biotechnology,” Estes said. “We also organize skills sessions to help develop our members and have fun doing so — whether about bioinformatics or understanding academic papers.”
Through his involvement both inside and outside of the classroom, his passion for applied biotechnology and sciences has only grown stronger.
Estes believes that graduate school will provide him with the tools to know when to ask more critical questions and how to better decipher problems.
“I want to gain perspective on the vast unknown our world must discover and to solve these unknowns through innovative pathways,” he said. “Once finishing grad school, I hope to succeed and innovate.”
Estes’ immersion in the field began when he was young. He was always deeply interested in science and for a long time believed he wanted to pursue a career in medicine. After starting the core curriculum, he developed a stronger admiration for challenging sciences and established a number of personal connections.
These childhood interests as well as “ag and hard science concepts” led him to such a versatile field. “This major is filled with a strong science curriculum, ranging from biology to genome classes,” he said.
Estes advocated not just for the degree itself, but involvement and how that would evolve interests into a passion. The nature of this degree allows students to enroll in courses that spark that innovative drive that is so evident in Estes.
Since pursuing this degree, Estes has gained a lot of formative experience in the field and surrounding areas. In the summer of 2022, he had the opportunity to intern for the Ohio State University’s College of Agriculture thanks to some Auburn Ag family connections. He spent the summer working in the university’s plant pathology department for Jason Slot, an associate professor in fungal evolutionary genomics.
Estes believes that his involvement has not only furthered his interest but has allowed him to freely choose the routes about which he is passionate. This Auburn University senior is adamant on encouraging perspective students to pursue this degree, as he believes it has a prominent place in our society’s future.