MSU freshman Rachael Koss wins Science as Art contest with time-lapse video

Montana State University freshman Rachael Koss has ridden horses since she could sit up, and her love for the animals led her to pursue a degree in the equine science program in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Department of Animal and Range Sciences. Inspired by the beauty of Montana and the livestock she works with and studies, Koss created a piece of art that won the College of Agriculture’s fifth annual Science as Art contest, part of the Celebrate Agriculture event Oct. 31 through Nov. 2.

The Science as Art contest began in 2015 as a way for students within the College of Agriculture to combine scientific and creative elements of their academic and hands-on agricultural experiences. Past winners, as well as Koss’ project, can be viewed at

Koss, a Michigan native, submitted a time-lapse video of her progress on a digital painting of a Santa Gertrudis bull, which took nearly 12 hours to complete. It was the first video project to win the contest. Though her studies focus on horses, Koss had reasons for selecting a breed of beef cattle as her subject matter.

“I’ve always really been taken with the King Ranch in Texas. They decided there needed to be a cow that was hearty and could withstand any climate, and they created the Santa Gertrudis, which is like the perfect breed of cattle,” Koss said.

Santa Gertrudis was created by crossing breeds native to southeast Asia and central America, and that unique background also provided Koss with inspiration.

“It shows the diversity of the United States, and also the beauty of the United States, our ability as people to withstand undesirable conditions,” she said.

Koss worked for 11 hours and 44 minutes to illustrate the image on an iPad, capturing the process with time-lapse video. The project allowed her to share her love of art while also paying homage to her new home in Montana, which she said provides further inspiration.

“When I look around at the mountains, it’s like living in a video game. It almost doesn’t look real,” Koss said. “I’m just so blessed to look out at the mountains every day and see that.” 

Koss’s video can be viewed online and will also be on display at the Celebrate Agriculture pre-game event on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. The event will take place in the Strand Union Building ballrooms and is free and open to the public. 

For a full schedule of events for the 20th annual Celebrate Agriculture weekend, visit