Lombardi Scholars

Click the links below to learn more about our Lombardi Alums

Kaitlyn Johnston Minchin – 2014 Lombardi Scholar

Joshua Jackman- 2010 Lombardi Scholar

Alexia Ash- 2009 Lombardi Scholar

Gloria Tavera – 2009 Lombardi Scholar

Sarah Martin - 2008 Lombardi Scholar

Joseph Wilson - 2007 Lombardi Scholar

Ryan Smith - 2006 Lombardi Scholar

Kaitlyn Johnston Minchin – 2014 Lombardi Scholar

BHS: Communication Sciences and Disorders

I am very thankful for the Lombardi Scholarship program. Not only did it give me wonderful friends, thought-provoking life experiences, and the opportunity to go to college debt-free, but it also helped me to grow personally and professionally.

My first study abroad and home stay experience in Mexico caused me to think deeper about the world and about language and were a major part of my later decision to apply for a Fulbright scholarship. One of my leadership activities within the Lombardi & Stamps program led directly to my undergraduate honors thesis. After graduating with my bachelor's degree in "Communication Sciences and Disorders," I was honored to live in Hong Kong for a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.

I have continue to think about language and recently began pursuing my master's degree in speech-language-pathology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. I would encourage students who are interested in growing personally and professionally to apply for the Lombardi & Stamps scholarship programs.

Joshua Jackman- 2010 Lombardi Scholar

B.S. Biochemistry

I am a 2010 graduate of the University of Florida. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, I earned a degree in biochemistry with highest honors and was recipient of the Colonel Allen R. and Margaret G. Crow Award as the outstanding graduate in the Department of Chemistry. As an undergraduate, I was involved in several undergraduate research programs, including the Beckman Scholars, HHMI Science for Life, and CPIMA REU programs that gave me the opportunity to pursue biotechnology and engineering research on campus and at Stanford University. These research experiences culminated in the publication of three research articles and several national presentations. After graduating from UF, I entered the Ph.D. program in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, where I was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Harvard-MIT HST Division MEMP Graduate Fellowship, as well as was named a Harvard-MIT HST Division Martinos Scholar. Through the Lombardi Scholars program, I had the privilege to travel abroad during my undergraduate years, and these experiences taught me the value of cultural understanding and global cooperation. Inspired by my travels abroad, I decided last year to move from Boston to Singapore in order to take advantage of Asia’s increasing importance in the global economy as well as to gain critical exposure to the region’s emerging markets. Thus after my first year in graduate school,  I transferred to the Ph.D. program in Materials Science and Engineering at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore where I was reunited with my former mentor from Stanford University. I was the first Westerner to be awarded the Nanyang President’s Graduate Scholarship, and I hope to pursue an entrepreneurial career in education and healthcare. I credit the University of Florida Lombardi Scholarship Program with instilling early on in my career the importance of goal-setting and perseverance to achieve one’s dreams.

Alexia Ash- 2009 Lombardi Scholar

‌BA: Mathematics and Political Science

Minor: History

I did not fully appreciate the true value of the Lombardi program until recently. Of course the international travel and funding was exciting coming out of high school. But now, seven years after having been awarded the scholarship, I cannot overstate how much more freedom I have as a young adult because I am not saddled with debt from student loans. Moreover, I have an internationally focused job in a premiere world city (London) thanks in large part to the global exposure I enjoyed as a student. My leadership experience has allowed me to excel here, and become the youngest ‘Deputy Head’ in the company. Most importantly, and I do mean most, through the Lombardi program I met an astounding group of impressive, engaged, interesting people. These are people who shaped my worldview, challenged me, and supported me. And of course, we shared quite a few laughs along the way.

Gloria Tavera – 2009 Lombardi Scholar

BS: Neurobiological Sciences

BA: Political Science

Minor: Public Health

Becoming a Lombardi Scholar in 2005 was a "game changer" for me. Over four years at UF, the Lombardi Scholarship allowed me to connect to a vast amount of resources, opportunities and most importantly, people. It empowered me to become a debt-free graduate of a highly regarded U.S. university. It made me a global citizen and taught me how to travel. It was proof that other, more powerful people (who were not my mom), believed in me. It taught me that success breeds success, that I was worth an investment and that I needed to develop a career plan. It also introduced me to some of the greatest people and best friends that I still have.

From my first summer in Mexico, studying ecology with Dr. Mark Brenner, the experience pushed me into the unknown--picking up local wildlife and diving headfirst into cenotes. Mark was an amazing professor who actively engaged us as students in the field. His familiarity with our surroundings and eagerness to share with his students perfectly depicted a researcher in a playground. Summer travel each year became an experience – after Greece we went on an unforgettable backpacking trip, and after South Africa I climbed Kilimanjaro and stayed with a friend doing her PhD at UF, studying medical anthropology in Tanzania.

My broad travel experience as an undergraduate helped as a Fulbright Scholar studying dengue fever in Mexico. The following year, I studied drug resistance at the NIH and joined the MD/PhD program at Case Western Reserve University in 2011, where I am now in the 3rd year of my PhD, studying the human immune response to malaria. The Lombardi experience is a continued experience for me. Interactions with mentors, lessons learned and deep friendships acquired through this program make it a key part of my personal and professional continuum. 

Sarah Martin - 2008 Lombardi Scholar

‌BA: Economics and English

Minors: Latin American Studies and Spanish

As a high school senior, I hoped that a top university would accept me – and that I could afford to attend. My prayers were answered in the Lombardi Scholarship. It gave me the chance to remain near my family, to graduate without debt, and to see the world. 

At UF, the Lombardi Scholarship prepared me for my studies and future career. For example, our cohort of eight took a professional development class focused on prestigious scholarships and graduate school. Using those skills, I successfully applied for a Fulbright Fellowship and spent the year after graduation working in economic development in Guatemala. Thanks to my Lombardi summer in Mexico (and my subsequent studies at UF), I spoke Spanish fluently and felt comfortable living in Latin America. 

Mindful of the privilege I enjoyed, I made sure to give back to UF as president of the Student Honors Organization and an Honors Ambassador. Community service sparked my interest in social justice, and I chose to attend law school to learn more. Now, as I counsel clients from different cultures, I draw on my experiences studying abroad. I credit the Lombardi Scholarship in large part with making me a competent lawyer and a more thoughtful human being.

Joseph Wilson - 2007 Lombardi Scholar

BS: Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering

Minor: Physics

‌I became a Lombardi Scholar in 2003, where I studied Electrical Engineering, minored in Physics, and engaged in a number of extracurricular activities. The Lombardi Scholars Program provided a unique outlet to explore the world and push my personal and professional development into overdrive. These experiences were instrumental in my desire to become a socially conscious engineer who wanted to do more for the world than use a soldering iron. After UF, I became a high school science teacher in a low-income community through Teach For America; I taught a freshman-level general science course, developed a Forensic Science course, acted as the National Honor Society sponsor, and became the local Science Fair Coordinator. I am now a third year PhD candidate in the Berkeley-UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering, where I focus on low-cost, easily-scalable imaging and sensing technologies for body composition. I am passionate about STEM education and plan on developing sustainable and successful science research programs for low-income students across the country. 


Ryan Smith - 2006 Lombardi Scholar

B.S. Electrical Engineering

In 2007 I moved to Baltimore to enter the Masters program in Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.  I joined Dr. Nitish Thakor's lab where I spent the next 2 years applying signal analysis and pattern recognition methods to the problem of allowing upper limb amputees to control robotic hands with muscle signals and movement of the phantom limb.  Videos demonstrating some of my work are here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z933I0w4NW0) and here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzf7ULk1CTE).  Actually, one of the students in that second video, Nataliya Kilveskaya, was an EE student at UF at the time the video was made.

In 2009 I completed my Masters work and transitioned into the PhD program in Biomedical Engineering at Hopkins.  I stayed in the same lab but the focus of my work shifted from analyzing muscle signals to working with neural spike trains recorded from the motor cortex in non-human primates.  The underlying problem is still the same: attempting to detect the intended hand and arm movement from the brain signals alone.  My somewhat unique approach is in shifting the focus to look for signals encoded in the network structure that can be inferred from granger causality between neuron signals.

I'm now in the process of writing my dissertation and intend to graduate by December of this year. I've begun transitioning my skills to be more in line with what is being called "data science".  I'm not entirely sure what I will be doing after graduation but I am considering starting my own business to offer data science consulting services to non-profit and humanitarian groups.

In my spare time outside of lab I have been applying my data analysis and visualization skills to civic activism and improving data accessibility.  Notably I have created data maps of crime and property taxes in the city as well as created an online map of the Baltimore riots in May that I updated live using info coming in from police scanners.  The last one was interesting only because I found out the next day that thousands of people had been using that map as one of their only reliable sources of information during the crisis.

A local tech blog has covered some of my civic work in a few articles linked below:





Side note: If any current or incoming Lombardi Scholars are interested in data science or taking an active role in working with open government data, I'd be interested to talk with them.  I can be reached on facebook, on twitter (@Ryan_J_Smith) or by email (ryan@datadriven.science)