2015 Eberhart Award Winners

This award was established by the family of Dr. Bruce M. Eberhart to honor exceptional students in the Biology Department who are academically excellent, actively involved in research, and demonstrate significant extracurricular contributions or service to the department, the university, the community as a whole, and even to fellow species they share the planet with. The award was established in 1997 to honor the memory and many contributions of Dr. Eberhart, a cancer victim, to the Biology Department and the community by honoring the students who are contributing to the department and the community in ways that were typical of him. The award is presented to graduating senior biology students and consists of a cash honorarium and a book, which is chosen to represent contributions to science and humanity by outstanding individuals or biological scientists. This serves, then, as an inspiration to young biological scientists just starting in their careers. The Eberhart Award fund provides not only the cash honoraria but also scholarship support for undergraduate research. The book presented to the Eberhart Award winners in 2015 was Life at the Speed of Light by J. Craig Venter, founder, chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute and of Synthetic Genomics, Inc. The subtitle of the book is From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life. This book describes the efforts of Dr. Venter and his research team to create an artificial, self-replicating bacterial cell. This book represents what we look for in this award, a thoughtful critique of a biomedical issue that will especially benefit students with a modern degree in biology. Dr. Eberhart, with his broad interests, would have been deeply involved in these issues and that makes this book most suitable for the Eberhart Award winners this year.

The 2015 Eberhart Award winners were:

Juan Emmanuel Collazo — a member of Beta Beta Beta national honor society in biology and has received numerous university awards for outstanding academic accomplishment. He has been a research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. Olav Rueppell, contributing to the research activity of the Biology Department. He has also done research in the Albert Eye Research Institute at Duke University. These efforts have resulted in numerous presentations. In addition to his academic achievements, he has an outstanding record of service to others. Juan volunteers his time helping fellow students and many others in the community. He is active in mentoring undergraduates in the Guarantee Scholar Program and volunteers at the SHAC medical clinic in Chapel Hill. He has been active in the ALIANZA program, recently established as a source of information and help for Spanish-speaking parents of UNCG undergraduates.

Amy Louise Gonsalves — a member of Beta Beta Beta national honor society in biology. She is noted as being “generous in spirit and time donated for environmental efforts.” She has worked tirelessly in the conservation efforts for sea turtles in Costa Rica and at the Manu Wildlife Center in Peru. She produced notable efforts working with on campus groups promoting sustainability and conservation of resources. She spent long hours promoting and organizing a contest for a design of the NC license plate promoting wildlife conservation. The design they came up with was approved by the NC Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee for NC license plates. The funds raised by these license plates support wildlife and endangered species programs in the state.

Carla Lynn Harris — a member of Beta Beta Beta national honor society in biology and Phi Beta Kappa national honor society. She has worked tirelessly for the student organization UNCGreen, which promotes sustainability in all phases of university policies and functioning. She was instrumental in getting a student fee, approved by students and faculty, to promote sustainable projects on campus. She was an after hours volunteer for the Kathleen Clay Edwards Family Branch Library, organizing science activities for high school students to promote interest in and appreciation for science. She participated in study abroad at the autonomous University of Puebla in Mexico. While doing this, she volunteered at the Jardín de Niños Cáritas, a pre-school program where she tutored young children in English and assisted the regular teacher with the numerous tasks required of educators. Everyone will be grateful that a person with this talent and dedication elects to be a science teacher in the public school system.