Juniors majoring in chemistry, biology selected for prestigious national program
by Susie P. Gonzalez
Trinity University juniors majoring in chemistry and biology have been named 2018 Goldwater Scholars. Zoheb Hirani ’19 from Missouri City, Texas, and Daisy Horr ’19 from Austin were selected for the prestigious program for students who intend to pursue research careers in the sciences.
Hirani, who expects to earn a chemistry degree in 2019, is from Missouri City, Texas. Under the direction of chemistry professor Adam Urbach, Hirani says he is leaning toward research that will lead to a doctorate in the field of enzyme design by directed evolution. “I would ultimately like to direct research at a startup company aimed to help the world with some sort of ingenious technology,” Hirani says, adding that he enjoys solving problems and running experiments but also loves organizing meetings, giving presentations, engaging in conferences, and working with people—all skills that lend themselves to research and development required of a successful start-up company. He also has learned much from Urbach.
“Words cannot describe how outstanding of a mentor and role model Dr. Urbach has been,” Hirani says. “He intensely strives for excellence, but he is also a very kind, supportive person. I've enjoyed observing how he conducts science, his writing style, and the way that he approaches problems. Most of all, he has taught me the importance of mindfulness in all things, a lesson which I still learn every day.”
Hirani was awarded a Beckman Scholarship as a sophomore and has been involved in summer research for two years. He is president of the Trinity chapter of the American Chemical Society and is vice president of the campus social fraternity Phi Sigma Chi.
“I'm very thankful for the supportive environment I've had at Trinity,” Hirani says. “I've had a lot of support through my rough times, and the culture here has allowed me to make a lot of mistakes, but learn from them and move on.”
Horr, who also expects to graduate in 2019, is a biology major with a concentration in ecology and evolution. From Austin, she also is a McNair Scholar, a program that has been foundational in her desire to attend graduate school.
After graduating she plans to work in a graduate school lab to study vertebrate evolution or ecology. “I absolutely love field work and I hope to find a lab where I can continue studying organisms in their natural environment,” Horr says. “My ultimate career goal is to work as a scientific curator in a museum, where I hope I can continue pursuing biological research and incorporate my work into community outreach.”
Working with biology professor Michele Johnson has allowed Horr to grow as a scientist. “In Dr. Johnson’s lab, I have learned a wide breadth of skills, including how to conduct experimental trials, make observations in the field, effectively write scientific papers, present at state and national conferences, and overall how to be a capable researcher,” Horr says. “Her guidance has really been key in helping me become more confident defining myself as a scientist, and I am very grateful to have someone like Dr. Johnson to always push me to do more than I believed I could do on my own.”
In the summer of 2017, Horr took part in Trinity’s summer research program to study the dynamics of body color change in green anole lizards. In 2018, she will take part in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at Mountain Lake Biological Station in Virginia, where she will study biodiversity and systematics of the mountain lake fauna.
Hirani and Horr become the 21st and 22nd Trinity students to be named Goldwater Scholars since 1994.
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation awarded 211 scholarships to outstanding sophomores and juniors majoring intending to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering science. The 2018 Scholars were chosen from among from among 1,280 students from more than 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide. The scholarship is for a maximum of $7,500 to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, or room and board.
The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established in honor of former Arizona Sen. Barry M. Goldwater. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. Since beginning the Scholar program in 1989, the Foundation has awarded 8,132 scholarships worth approximately $65 million.
Susie P. Gonzalez, senior manager of public relations, can be reached at susie.gonzalez [at] trinity.edu or on Twitter @susiegonz.