Alumni Profiles

Distinguished Alumni

Adam Amir, B.S. '10

Headshot of Honors alum Adam AmirAdam Amir graduated in May 2010 summa cum laude with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and Political Science, and reflects fondly on his time at the University of Florida Honors Program. "The support of the Honors Program is hard to quantify," Adam, a former Honors Ambassador and Professional Development Peer Leader, said. "In Honors, I not only found my friends but tremendous freedom to explore my interests with a safety-net of advisers and resources when I inevitably stumbled."

In the summer after his graduation, Adam moved to Washington D.C. to research the nexus between the environment and international free trade in the Executive Office of the President. His internship was sponsored through the Harry S. Truman Foundation's Summer Institute, which brings Truman Scholars to live and work together on substantive public policy issues in government and at non-profits. Following his internship, Adam spent two years at the Office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, working to advance the City of New York’s national priorities on issues such as public safety policy, immigration reform, and LGBT rights. 

Adam then enrolled at Stanford Law School and graduated in 2015.

"As transient and exciting the next few years will be, I don't want to stray too far from my roots," he said, before explaining his plans to return to the Swamp this fall for some Gator Football. "Which reminds me," Adam said. "Does anyone have any extra tickets?"

Linda Parker Hudson, B.S. '72

Honors alum Linda Hudson stands with her arms crossed in a red blazerLinda P. Hudson is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of The Cardea Group, a consultancy specializing in C-Suite transitions, leadership in today’s multi-cultural and multi-generational workplaces, managing risk, strategic change, and scaling businesses in rapid growth environments. Hudson coaches high-performing individuals to become more effective leaders and valuable citizens by positively impacting their companies, colleagues and communities. Additionally, Hudson serves as director on the boards of Bank of America, Southern Company and Ingersoll Rand.

Hudson retired as president and CEO of BAE Systems, Inc. on January 31, 2014. Hudson led a global, U.S.-based defense, aerospace, and security company, wholly owned by London-based BAE Systems plc, with approximately 40,000 employees and $13 billion in annual revenue. Hudson served as an executive director on the BAE Systems, Inc. and BAE Systems plc board of directors.

Prior to becoming CEO, Hudson was president of BAE Systems' Land & Armaments operating group, the world's largest military vehicle and equipment business, with operations around the world. Before joining BAE Systems, she served for seven years as an officer and vice president of the General Dynamics Corporation and was president of General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products.

Hudson held a variety of senior management positions in engineering, production operations, program management, and business development during a period of significant consolidation in the defense industry. Beginning her career with the Harris Corporation and Ford Aerospace, she led organizations at Martin Marietta through the Lockheed Martin merger and a subsequent divestiture to General Dynamics.

Selected to receive the USO’s 2011 Woman of the Year Distinguished Service Award for her tireless commitment to the military and their families, Hudson has received numerous accolades and recognitions for her professional accomplishments and philanthropic activities. In demand as a powerful keynote speaker, she has also been recognized as an innovative leader and trailblazer and featured in numerous periodicals such as the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Forbes. The London Sunday Times proclaimed her “the first lady of defense.”

Hudson currently serves on the non-profit boards of the University of Florida Foundation, Wake Forest University Charlotte Center and Discovery Place. She is a member of the International Women's Forum and C200, the premier global organization of women business leaders. Hudson received C200’s 2011 Luminary Award for Corporate Innovation. She has been cited as one of Fortune Magazine's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and one of Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington. Washington Business Journal has named her one of its Power 100 and one of the Most Admired CEOs. She was inducted into the Washington Business Hall of Fame in December 2013. Hudson received the 2013 Association of the US Army’s Dixon award for her industry leadership and contribution to national security. The Charlotte Business Journal honored her with their 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award.

A graduate of the University of Florida, Hudson received her bachelor's degree in systems engineering with honors. She remains active in the alumni and athletic associations and serves on advisory boards for the College of Engineering. Honored as a Distinguished Alumnus, she is a member of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Hall of Fame. She holds an honorary doctorate in engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an honorary doctorate in science from the University of Florida.

Dr. Jose (Joe) Lezama, B.S. '93

Headshot of Dr. Lezama standing next to a windowDr. Jose (Joe) Lezama joined the University of Florida Honors program in the fall of 1989 and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Microbiology and Cell Science in 1993 with Honors. He then continued his studies at the University of Florida, being accepted to the College of Medicine and successfully finishing his studies in 1997. Dr. Lezama then completed his training in Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida College of Medicine  in Tampa, Fl over the next three years. Among his accomplishments in his residency training were being awarded the American College of Physicians Award for the Best Resident in Training for USF for his final year in training, and receiving the Moffitt Cancer Center Housestaff Clinical Care Award.
Dr. Lezama joined the University of South Florida Internal Medicine Faculty after residency completion, as well as the  James Haley Veterans Hospital in July 2000, He made a mark for himself with excellent clinical care and leadership skills such that he was selected as the Chief of Medicine in February 2006 at the age of 34, one of the youngest physicians ( if not the youngest) in in the history of the Veterans Health Administration to have been selected with that honor. During his career, he has also been promoted to Associate Program Director of the USF Internal Medicine residency, Vice-Chairman of the USF Department of Internal Medicine, and Professor of Medicine at the University of South Florida.
Dr. Lezama’s accomplishments include winning the University of South Florida's Clinical Teacher of the Year award for the entire College of Medicine three times and winning multiple other College of Medicine awards, including the Leonard Tow Humanism Award and the Osler Award twice. He also won the nomination of the USF College of Medicine for the American Association of Medical Colleges Humanism Award, finishing among the final 42 nominees for this award in 2008. In addition to his excellent medical student teaching, Dr. Lezama is unique in being able to also teach residents to the same high level, having won the Department of Medicine's Teacher of the Year award five times in his career. He also was recognized as one of the top 10 Internal Medicine Physicians by the American College of Physicians (ACP) in 2010, making the cover of one of their magazines.  He has also won the ACP’s Distinguished Teacher of the Year award for the entire state of Florida that recognizes the best teaching physician of the year amongst all the state internal medicine training programs.
Dr. Lezama has instituted numerous patient safety mechanisms in the hospital for improved care of patients with bronchopneumonia, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and deep venous vein prophylaxis. He has been an avid contributor to innovative education of residents and medical students, developing a web site for education that has been used by thousands during his years in Tampa.
Among the many innovative leadership skills of Dr. Lezama is emergency disaster preparedness. Dr. Lezama has served as the Deputy Director for Mass Casualty in Hillsborough County since 2005 when he assisted in the Hurricane Katrina casualty reception, and he stepped into a greater role as the Medical Director of the Tampa VA FCC activation in 2010 when Operation Haiti Relief was initiated. Dr. Lezama served in his role as Medical Director for over a month, coordinating the reception of patients from the USS Comfort, and even providing direct triaging of patients by being the first to board the C-130 planes when they would arrive late at night at Tampa International Airport. Dr. Lezama coordinated all county efforts to support the federal mission which was a huge success. Dr. Lezama was recognized for his role in Operation Haiti Relief with a Letter of Recognition from the State of Florida Surgeon General, and he was part of the contingent that helped the James Haley VA be recognized that same year for an Natonal Medical Disaster Association award. Dr. Lezama shared his knowledge on successful coordination of federal, state, and county emergency services as one of the main speakers at the VA's national emergency management meetings over the past few years.
The University of Florida recognized Dr. Lezama’s accomplishments via Alumni nomination into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society in 2010. He was also recognized as a Young Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Florida in 2010 in a ceremony at Griffith Hall at UF.
Dr. Lezama is married to Amy Abreu Lezama, Pharm D, and they have three “future Gator” children ( Kaitlyn, Derek, and Madeline). They reside in Lutz, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area.
Dr. Lezama has fond memories of his time in the UF Honors Program and recognizes the importance of that program in his career.

Cara Malek, B.S. '04

Headshot of Honors alum Cara Malek outdoorsCara Malek graduated cum laude from the UF College of Engineering in May 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Digital Arts and Sciences.The collaborative spirit of the honors community helped develop her teamwork and leadership skills. She loved her time at UF, and inspired the next class of Gators through serving on Preview Orientation staff and teaching a First Year Florida course. She also worked as the graphic designer for the Dean of Students Office, and founded UF's first a cappella vocal ensemble, "No Southern Accent".  

Cara went on to graduate school at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. She received a Masters of Fine Arts in Design, with a specialization in Digital Animation + Visualization. She spent a year of her studies working on the Jane Project, a visualization of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex. Her work can be seen in videos and interactive displays about a juvenile T. Rex named Jane, at the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, Illinois.  

During her graduate studies, Cara held an internship with DreamWorks Animation in Redwood City, California, and went on to land her "dream job" at the studio after graduation. She is currently a Character Technical Director Lead for the upcoming feature film, "How to Train Your Dragon 2". As a Character TD, she uses her technical and artistic expertise to create joints, muscles, and controls inside the digital puppets used in computer-generated animated films.  Her credits include "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," "How to Train Your Dragon," "Megamind," and "Kung Fu Panda 2".  

"The computer graphics industry involves a crazy mix of people, from programmers and engineers to artists and storytellers," Cara explains. "Not only did UF provide me with a great education. My experiences at the University of Florida taught me to be a better communicator and to understand different perspectives. These skills proved to be invaluable in my career."‌

Kevin Nead, B.S. '08

Headshot of Kevin Nead in a suit jacket and tieKevin Nead graduated in December of 2008 summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor of science in Zoology. During his time at UF Kevin was a member of the varsity swimming team and as a student-athlete was an athletic All-American (HM), a first-team Academic All-American, and became the first Gator male to ever be named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year twice.  As a junior Kevin was awarded a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Fellowship, which allowed him to live and work in Lille, France for six months where he studied the genetics of type 2 diabetes.  

Largely based on his experience conducting research in France, Kevin graduated from UF with an interest in medicine and biomedical research. In the autumn of 2009 Kevin matriculated at Stanford University School of Medicine to complete his MD. As a student, Kevin continued to undertake research where he studied metabolic and cardiovascular disease with the support of a fellowship from the American Heart Association. This experience motivated Kevin to take a year off of his medical training to complete a master’s degree in Epidemiology. In February of 2011, Kevin learned that he had been awarded a prestigious, full-cost Gates-Cambridge Scholarship to complete his MPhil in Epidemiology at the University of Cambridge in England. Kevin graduated first in his class from Cambridge in 2012 and completed his MD at Stanford in 2014.  He is now a resident physician in the department of radiation oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests focus on oncology and cardiometabolic diseases utilizing traditional retrospective and prospective datasets as well as novel bioinformatics approaches to analyze electronic medical record data.

John Pinckard, B.A. '98

John Arthur Pinckard is a two-time Tony Award winning producer, most recently represented on Broadway and currently represented on tour by the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award winning best musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which he helped develop.

With David Carpenter he is a partner in Tilted Windmills Theatricals, a boutique production company with a portfolio of titles in production and pre-production across Broadway, regional, and touring markets. Tilted Windmills is currently represented Off Broadway by PUFFS, the hit Harry Potter inspired comedy that workshopped at the University of Florida in the summer of 2016.  

John’s other Broadway credits include Clybourne Park (Tony Award and Olivier Award for Best New Play, Pulitzer Prize for Drama), HAIRGreen Day’s American Idiot (Tony nomination) and Slava’s Snowshow on Broadway (Tony nomination). Off Broadway credits include Silence! the Musical (Lortel nomination), 5 Lesbians Eating A Quiche, and Never Swim Alone.

As an inaugural recipient of the T. Edward Hambleton Fellowship for creative producers, he was trained in the development of new musicals by Harold Prince, the most successful producer and director in Broadway history. John’s notable collaborators include Tony winners Greg Kotis & Mark Hollman (Urinetown), Drama Desk winner Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, international music sensations the Scissor Sisters, and renowned author Armistead Maupin, among others.

Prior to his work on Broadway, John worked in the risk department of the investment bank at J.P.MorganChase & Co. He has lectured at Columbia University, the Commercial Theater Institute, and the University of Florida, which named him an Outstanding Young Alumnus in 2009 and named him to the Alumni Advisory Council for the Arts in 2014.

Yevgin Sautin, B.S. '12

Headshot of Yevin SautinUniversity of Florida alumnus Yevgen Sautin has been selected as one of 35 Gates Cambridge Scholars from the U.S. to study for a PhD in Modern Chinese History at the University of Cambridge on a full scholarship. 

Yevgen Sautin [class of 2012] is a strategic risk analyst at U.S. Bank in Washington, DC focusing on cyber issues and political risk. Prior to working at the bank, he spent the 2014-15 academic year as a Boren Fellow at the National Taiwan University in Taipei. He also received an MA from the University of Chicago in International Relations. After graduating from UF he was a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace at the Russia-Eurasia and Energy & Climate Change Programs. At Florida, Yevgen triple majored in History, Economics, and Political Science and was the first Carnegie Junior Fellow in school history. A lifelong gator and Gainesville resident, Yevgen devoted a lot of time at UF attempting to broaden student access to campus resources and reform student government. Knowing both Mandarin and Russian, Yevgen’s commentary on international politics and energy is frequently published in leading journals and newspapers such as the National Interest. When not working, Yevgen enjoys globetrotting, running, and being a foodie.

“The University of Florida gave me tremendous opportunities without which I would not be where I am today, for which I am eternally grateful. From outstanding classes and faculty mentors to the Honors Office, I was in a perfect environment to thrive and figure out what sort of subsequent career and academic path I wanted to take.”

“Thanks to the Honors Program and its fantastic classes and advising, UF never felt like a large school to me. Honors Program classes or events was also where I met many students with similar interests who have since become lifelong friends.”

“I would also attribute my success in large part to being encouraged to try and failing at several key junctures during my time at Florida. My junior year I was a finalist for the Truman Scholarship and was also a Rhodes nominee my senior year. Although I didn't get either scholarship, the experience helped me prepare for future applications and helped me to think strategically about what my next step should be after graduation.”

 -Yevgen Sauti

Wells Weymouth, B.S. '11

Headshot of Wells Weymouth in military attireWells graduated summa cum laude from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a B.S. in Psychology. During his four years at UF, he was supported by an Army ROTC scholarship. This rigorous program of physical training, leadership development, and tactical exercises was an integral component of his time at UF, and led him to combine his life-long passion to become a doctor with a military medical career path. Wells received his Commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Branch Medical Corps, as a Distinguished Military Graduate in May, 2011.  

In the spring semester of his freshman year, Wells joined the Phelps Laboratory in the zoology department, where he worked under Dr. Steve Phelps and graduate student Dr. Alex Ophir on neuroendocrine studies of the prairie vole. Collaborating with colleague Elon Richman, Wells researched the heritability of forebrain hormone receptors. They presented their findings at the 2010 Society for Neuroscience National Conference in San Diego, California. Wells received Highest Honors on his senior honors thesis on the same subject.

In March 2009, Wells traveled to Ecuador with the UF College of Medicine. He was the sole undergraduate on the volunteer medical mission “Project Heal." This humbling experience of treating needy indigenous people in the remote mountains and Amazonian villages deepened his medical ambition. It also helped to further prepare him for a number of unique shadowing experiences in the medical field. In the summer of 2010, after successfully completing the required ROTC Leadership Development and Assessment Camp, Wells was selected for the Army Medical Department Internship Program at Madigan Army Medical Center in Fort Lewis, Washington. During this four-week internship, Wells shadowed a variety of military doctors, including radiologists, anesthesiologists, and specialist surgeons, gaining valuable OR experience.  

During his four years at UF, Wells was actively involved with several campus organizations, including pre-health organization Alpha Epsilon Delta, Tau Kappa Epsilon, and fundraising for Project Heal. Wells was awarded the University of Florida Presidential Award for Volunteer Service. He graduated as a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. Wells also perfected his Spanish through two UF Summer Study Abroad programs in Spain.  

In October 2011, Wells will begin study and research at the University of Canterbury, Graduate Program in Antarctic Studies, Christchurch, New Zealand, as a Fulbright Scholar. His research proposal, titled “Insomnia and Melatonin: A Polar Exploration” is aimed at traveling groups and researchers in Antarctica. You can follow his blog at to hear more about his Fulbright experience.  

Wells will begin Medical School in the fall of 2012. He will attend on US Army scholarship the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland and hopes to specialize in trauma surgery.

Lombardi Scholars & Stamps Scholars

Kaitlyn Johnston Minchin, '14 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."

Grace Ooi '11 Lombardi Scholar

"Studying abroad in Merida, Mexico was an incredible experience on many levels. We were fully immersed in the culture of the Yucatan. We spoke their language, ate their food, followed their customs, and even used their public transportation system. Each of us stayed with a host family and commuted to the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, where we took classes in Spanish and Anthropology. On our weekly excursions, we would visit different Mayan archeological sites that supplemented the course material and enhanced our learning. 

Our trip to Mexico is the first of the Lombardi trips we would take during our time at the University of Florida. For me, one of the greatest aspects of this scholarship is being a part of group of intelligent, diverse of students that I could connect with. During our seven weeks in Mexico, we got to know each other a lot better and bonded over our experiences. Even before I got on campus, I made a group of reliable friends that I knew I could count on during my years in school."

Joshua Jackman '10 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 '09 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 '09 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."

Meg Cusack '09 Lombardi Scholar

"Throughout my high school years, I strove to expose myself to unique educational experiences, particularly the study of foreign language and culture. As I studied and gained fluency in Spanish and French, I also gained a compelling desire to broaden my range of knowledge and to better understand the world’s rapidly changing social structures, foreign relations, and international development. As a recipient of the Lombardi Scholarship at the University of Florida, I was able to realize that desire. Experienced advisors and professors assisted me in designing a program of study suitable to my unique expectations, which permitted me to explore the world beyond the confines of the classroom while living and working abroad. As an undergraduate, I am pursuing a double major in Spanish and Women’s Studies as well as two minors in French and Education. This specific combination of degrees has allowed me to consolidate my diverging interests and maximize career possibilities available to me in the future. I am extremely grateful to the Lombardi Program for providing me with educational enrichment and enabling me to build lasting connections with an international network of scholars and professors throughout my undergraduate career."

Sarah Martin '08 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."

John Moran '08 Lombardi Scholar

"By providing Scholars flexibility in booking flights to the summer immersion programs, the Honors Program gives Scholars an easy opportunity for extended travel. For me, these travels have been central to my education and the career I’m choosing to pursue. In the summer of 2010, after the Lombardi volunteer program ended in Cusco, Peru, a few Scholars and I hiked a four-day portion of the Salcantay trek to Machu Picchu (at thirty kilometers a day, and with our altitude reaching 4,600 meters, we were definitely happy to reach our destination). After Machu Picchu, we flew to Puerto Maldonado and spent a few days at a lodge exploring the Peruvian Amazon. Following the Amazon, I spent an additional month in Cusco taking Quechua courses at Centro Tinku while living with a Quechua-speaking host family. From there I was able to travel to Lago Titicaca, where I spent a night with a Peruvian family on Isla Amantani. I also visited the colonial town of Arequipa, hiked along the rim of the world’s deepest canyon, took a prop plane over the Nazca lines, and crossed the border into Bolivia (I was also stuck in a national labor riot, but that is another matter). Coupled with six weeks I spent after the Lombardi trip to South Africa, where I traveled through Zimbabwe and conducted ethnographic research among Chinese migrants in Botswana, these experiences have developed my strong interests in globalization, development, and migration. In the Fall I will be beginning the Stanford University Ph.D. program in cultural anthropology with a focus on Chinese migration to Peru—a path that would not have presented itself to me if not for the Lombardi Scholarship."

Joseph Wilson ;07 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 '06 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 ( and here (  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 (

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