Student Spotlights

Nathan Van Zee
Nathan Van Zee
Wilkes Honors College, Chemistry, 2010

June 8, 2018 - Wilkes Honors College alumnus, Nathan J. Van Zee, Ph.D., is lead author on a study published in the journal "Nature" about water’s role in the formation of supramolecular structures. Van Zee is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Wilkes Honors College in 2010 and earned his PhD in polymer chemistry from Cornell in 2015. The titled, “Potential enthalpic energy of water in oils exploited to control supramolecular structure” provides new insights on how small concentrations of water can impact results in laboratory experiments. Van Zee stumbled upon the topic on accident. “For months I struggled with irreproducible results, but, after making a small mistake in setting up an experiment, I observed that moisture plays a key role in my experiments. At that point I knew that I had found something important. Together with some really talented colleagues in Eindhoven, we ultimately gained a better fundamental understanding of how water molecules interact with surrounding molecules,” said Van Zee, Ph.D. Van Zee attended the Wilkes Honors College as a Flagler Scholar, a full merit award program that provides exceptional students with financial freedom to pursue higher education goals and participate in annual enrichment programs. He cites this experience and the college’s interdisciplinary curriculum as motivation to continue his scientific research career abroad. “As a Flagler Scholar, I was able to travel and do research abroad for the for the first time---I spent a summer in Stuttgart, Germany working on an analytical chemistry project at the University of Hohenheim. I loved that experience, and it motivated me to continue my career abroad,” said Van Zee, Ph.D. He is concluding his current position at Eindhoven University of Technology in September to move to the ESPCI Paris to lecture and conduct research in polymer science. (Pictured left-right: Bert Meijer, Ph.D., professor of Organic Chemistry, Eindhoven University of Technology; and Nathan Van Zee, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher, Eindhoven University of Technology.)

Michael Metzner
Michael Metzner
Wilkes Honors College, Biological Chemistry And Visual Art, 2012

July 13, 2018 - Wilkes Honors College alumnus Michael Metzner, M.D., ’12, has always had two passions: art and medicine. But “Never in a million years did I think, ‘Oh, well writing for Grey’s Anatomy, that’s how I can do that.’ Metzner recently changed his career path and accepted a writing position for ABC’s Greys Anatomy. Metzner is a 3rd year general surgery resident and discovered the opportunity through his current program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Metzner has incorporated the sciences and arts throughout this career and graduated from WHC in 2012 with a double concentration in biological chemistry and visual art.

joshua-torres
Joshua Torres '18
Neuroscience

Joshua Torres graduated as a neuroscience major from the Wilkes Honors College and works in the laboratory of Alex Keene, Ph.D. of FAU’s Jupiter Life Science Initiative (JLSI). During his senior year, Torres published his research in the scientific journal, Ecology and Evolution. The paper entitled "Variation in sleep and metabolic function is associated with latitude and average temperature in Drosophila melanogaster" examines the role ecological forces play in sleep and metabolic function in the Drosophila melanogaster.“My lab experience has been fantastic to say the least,” said Torres, “I have had endless opportunities and have been able to present my research at multiple events. With my goal of pursuing Medical School, I have been fortunate to experience the research side of the world, helping me become a well-rounded student with appreciation for both fields of work.”Torres has been accepted into the Atlantis Fellowship program where he will spend four weeks in Barcelona, Spain, shadowing physicians and learning about how the healthcare system operates in a foreign country. In the Fall of 2018, Torres will attend FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine to purse his Master's in Biomedical Sciences. He plans to continue his research with Dr. Keene's laboratory while attend the College of Medicine.

Rubens Tavora '18
Rubens Tavora '18
Biology

Rubens Tavora is from Brazil and the Wilkes Honors College of FAU opened the door to an exciting future. For the past two years, Tavora has conducted research in Dr. Brock Grill’s laboratory at the Scripps Florida Institute on campus. His research focuses on the molecular coordinators of neuronal development and has co-authored a paper that will soon be submitted to a top-tier scientific journal.Tavora was awarded the Community Engagement Scholarship during his junior year, and has served as an intern at the El Sol Resource Center, an immigrant integration center in Jupiter. As an immigrant himself, Tavora has a first-hand understanding of many the challenges faces by this community. Tavora is also involved in the Big Brothers Big Sisters, and he meets with his “little brother” on a weekly basis. Tavora is proud to have helped this child from Guatemala learn English and overcome extreme shyness to become the enthusiastic and engaged boy that he is today.Tavora notes, “if not for the scholarship support I have received, I would not have been able to come here and pursue my degree. I feel so lucky to have found this college and this community where I can combine my passion for scholarship with giving something back to the community.”

Micael Idani '19
Micael Idani '19
Neuroscience

Micael Idani is a student at the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, member of the Wilkes Honors College Pre-Medical Society, Kingdom Club and Musically Inclined Club. Idani has been the recipient of the John Nambu Memorial Summer REU Program scholarship two years in a row for his internship working in the laboratory of Dr. Tanja Godenschwege of FAU’s Jupiter Life Science Initiative (JLSI). His research project is investigating transmembrane glycoproteins associated with neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders, such as adult-onset spongiform, neurodegeneration, and autism, using the powerful genetic tools of the Drosophila (fruit fly) model system. The long-term goal of his project is to elucidate how specific signaling pathways contribute to neurodevelopment, protection against oxidative stress and neuronal survival, which is pertinent to a board spectrum of neurological disorders. His goals are to attain a MD/PhD degree in Neuroscience and says that he has "learned more than he ever thought possible, and this program has embraced his zeal for science like never before." Watch Idani discuss his research and learn more about JLSI.

joseph-elmo
Joseph Elmo '18
Interdisciplinary History

Joseph Elmo served our country as a hospital Corpsman in the United States Navy before transferring into the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of FAU in 2016. Elmo is pursuing his passion for world history and his honors thesis analyzed the role of anarchists in the Spanish Civil War. The first chapter of his thesis has been accepted for publication in a peer reviewed journal. Elmo has interned at the Palm Springs public library, updating and promoting the history collection and teaching the public how to conduct research.Elmo will attend Columbia University’s graduate program where he plans to earn his Ph.D. in History and teach at the university level. As Elmo explains, his time at the Wilkes Honors College of FAU opened a door to opportunities he never imagined would be possible. “I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for the generosity of those who provide scholarships so that students like me can attend such a great College!”

Christy Folk '18
Christy Folk '18
Environmental Science

Christy Folk concentrated in Environmental Science and minored in Spanish Literature at the Wilkes Honors College. A National Merit Finalist and Newman Civic Fellow, as an incoming student Christy received one of the college’s prestigious, four-year Henry Morrison Flagler Scholarships. She is also the 2018 recipient of the Stan and Renee Wimberly Award.“My academic coursework played a large role in my intellectual development, but the Flagler Scholarship really challenged me to step beyond my comfort zone, and I have grown so much as a result! I honed my teamwork skills in my Outward Bound course mountaineering and kayaking in Washington state. Another summer I interned with a forestry company monitoring endangered bird species throughout South Carolina and Florida. However, it was my time abroad that had the biggest impact. I interned with a non-profit in a rural Mayan community in Guatemala, where I helped secure scholarships for students to finish high school and get good jobs in their own country. Since no one else spoke English, my Spanish speaking skills improved dramatically! Most recently, I spent seven (7) weeks living with a rural homestay family in a remote region of the Himalayas in Nepal, where I studied their sustainable agricultural practices. My global travels have led me to the conclusion that despite cultural and geographical differences, we all have more in common than we realize.”Folk has joined AmeriCorps NCCC after graduating from the Wilkes Honors College and plans to complete a year of the program before applying to graduate school.