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Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering


Meet Owen Si: International Plant Doctor

March 25, 2019
Meet Owen Si: Former ASM student, current graduate student

For most, life can take them slightly off course from their intended paths. But for some, like Agricultural Systems Management (ASM) student Owen Si, that may mean moving to the other side of the world for college. 

Owen was born and raised in Qingdao, a big city in the Chinese province of Shandong. Back in high school, he never imagined that he would be in America starting his graduate in agriculture. In fact, English was his least favorite subject. 

However, as the time for making drastic life decisions came rushing by and his results from the Gaokao test (China’s prerequisite test for entrance to universities and higher-level institutions) came in, he felt that he should grasp the opportunity to study in America while he could. 

Owen went through quite an experience to land here in Ohio. The flight time between Qingdao and Columbus, including two layovers in Beijing and Chicago, totaled about 24 hours! Even then, things did not get easier for him upon his first arrival. He realized that the airline had misplaced his luggage back in Chicago, forcing him to contact the airport to recollect his belongings. This was his first-time making connections and communicating with American people. 

His most recent visit home was last winter. Owen finds that a major difference between Ohio and his hometown is the weather. Qingdao is a coastal city where the weather is constant and rarely extreme. He had to completely readjust to Ohio’s inconsistent fluctuation of temperatures. Despite the weather, he really appreciates the community at Ohio State and how friendly everyone he meets is.  

“If you see a stranger, they will say hello and good morning to you. That’s why I like it here.” 

After acclimating to the weather and favoring the welcoming atmosphere of OSU, Owen chose to continue his education at Ohio State. Owen recently earned his BS in ASM with a minor in agribusiness and is currently in his first graduate semester.  

Owen developed an interest in biology during his high school years. Coming to OSU, he found that the ASM program incorporated biology with other important skills, such as machinery, hydraulics, soil science, etc. He admires the complex and comprehensiveness of the major. Owen hopes to publish his own paper in the next several years and eventually obtain a PhD.  

A photo from Owen's internship at Green Circle GrowersDuring a career fair in his undergraduate years, Owen came across an incredible internship opportunity. He worked for the Green Circle Growers: a family owned and operated greenhouse company that specializes in the betterment of the marketplace and the environment. He interned during the summer of 2018, working both in the field and in the soil and water laboratory. 

“It was a very interesting experience for me because it was the first time I worked with American people and also the first time I applied my knowledge to the real world.”  

Owen was able to take everything he had learned through the ASM program and apply it to the company. He learned hydrology and how much water plants need along with soil science and how the water gets into the soil. He felt like he was communicating with the plants, much like a doctor to his patients. 

“We treat a lot of plants. If one gets an illness, we know what it has and how to fix the problem. We can [also] test how much algae are in the water and how to clean and recycle that water.” 

Through this internship, and the move from China to America, Owen has really put his brain to the test. Owen had to adapt to a different culture and education system all the while teaching himself the English language (we all know how complicated English can get). He has strengthened his self-teaching capabilities. 

“A lot of things you have to do yourself. I go here by myself. No parents, no friends. Everything is new to me.” 

During Owen’s free time, you can find him in the RPAC, particularly in the pool. He always says it’s the number one gym in America and tries to go four times a week. 

Owen’s word to the wise: 

“The biggest thing I feel here is the different cultures... Some people are from Japan, Africa, even South America. You can meet different people every day. You can feel the difference in their ideas and how they think about things. One important thing I learned here is to respect each other’s cultures. There is no absolute truth in the world, so you should respect other people’s ideas. When you learn some other idea, it can broaden your mind. It can inspire you.” 



By Helena Nguyen, FABE Student Communications Assistant