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Zachary King

Biotechnology Researcher
Posted May 2008

Zachary King

"Get involved in a few things that you're really passionate about and work to make things better."

During his time at ESF, biotechnology major Zachary King '08 made this his mantra as he got involved with clubs, organizations and academic pursuits.

King said he "lucked out" when he chose ESF, because "I was exposed to the SU (Syracuse University) life." The special relationship between ESF and SU opened up a variety of opportunities and friendships.

"ESF students aren't required to live more than their freshman year on campus," he said, "then they tend to move into apartments off-campus with other ESF people. I didn't do that."

King joined the SU ski and men's gymnastic teams; he took several classes at SU and became a residence hall advisor for the next three years.

"I have friends from both universities," he said. "I maximized the opportunities provided by each school. We pay an SU activities fee so we can join any club that's not a Division 1 sport."

King also maximized his academic opportunities at ESF, which earned him a nomination for the SUNY Chancellor's Award. Among his research projects, he has worked on the use of switchgrass as a renewable energy source.

"Switchgrass is a forage grass that grows in poor soils," he explained. "You only need to water it once per season and it grows on marginal lands." Switchgrass can be used as an alternative to corn to make cellulosic ethanol.

"The goal is to have the lowest input on the fields to get the most impact back on the crops," King said.

Under the direction of Dr. Charles Maynard, King is working with a variety of switchgrass in order to one day improve bioprocessing to make cellulosic ethanol. He will continue his switchgrass research and begin his graduate studies at the University of Georgia this summer.

"Switchgrass holds bright promise as a bioenergy crop for the production of cellulosic ethanol, and has received a great deal of attention and funding," he said.

King has also been offered the opportunity to do biotechnology research at the BOKU University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria.

King offers advice for the class of 2012: "Try things out, clubs, internships. Meet your professors. A lot of students don't get involved with stuff related to their major. There are so many internships out there for students. You just have to look actively."


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