Meet ORAU employee Jason Kobylanski. As an ORAU contractor working under the National Student Services Contract (NSSC) at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Jason provides Laboratory and Analytical Support to the Epidemiology Branch in the Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment Division.
Alongside the EPA team, Jason contributes to multiple projects focused on human health and the environment. For example, the Epidemiology Branch is developing a COVID-antibody assay to assess the spread of COVID-19 in the Research Triangle area. By understanding the population’s role in the proliferation of the disease, communities can develop informed long-term strategies. Jason runs various laboratory experiments to optimize the assay and process the participant information. Optimization includes assessing cross-reactivity for different antibodies and identifying the best candidates of different commercial and non-commercial antigens to use as the basis of the assay.
Additionally, Jason supports the Residential Environment, Allostatic Load and Diseases (RENALDI) project. The goal of the research is to assess the health effects of urban green spaces in relation to diseases. The lab analyzes various biomarkers and metrics to assess diseases ranging from Toxoplasma and H. pylori to differing types of Noroviruses within the Research Triangle region. The team uses GIS to generate maps, and Jason provides preliminary data analysis highlighting problematic samples.
In 2018, Jason graduated from the University of Georgia as a triple major in Genetics, Biology, and Plant Biology. During his undergraduate career, he worked in the Donovan lab which assessed large-scale physiological trade-offs in Helianthus Annus, the common sunflower. The team aimed to generate strains of the sunflower with the ability to resist environmental stressors such as drought and salt.
Ultimately, Jason hopes to demonstrate his appreciation for his mentors by serving as a mentor to future students. Also, he hopes to motivate those around him by pursuing his own goals, such as running a marathon and squatting over 300 pounds by the end of the year!