Joseph W. Paul, III
Hometown/State: Raleigh, NC
Incoming EC Scholar Class (year): 2012
Major/Intended Major: Biology
Scholarship: R. Janie Barber East Carolina Scholars Award
Why did you choose to attend East Carolina University?
Prolonged geographic divergence in North Carolina shaped a region plagued with economic, educational, and health inequities. East Carolina University is particularly unique because its mission explicitly tasks the institution to be a force of positive change in these areas. As a student, I have been part of a substantial period of growth characterized by evolving programs in academics and service at ECU. The opportunity to influence institutional change and build programs as an undergraduate, through both the Honors College and EC Scholars, is invaluable.
What has your scholarship enabled you to do?
Distinct from other opportunities, my scholarship has provided a view of the university from the core of its governance and operations. Some of the most impactful interactions I have been afforded through the scholarship are with university administrators, members of the board of trustees, and other donors. This insight has been particularly valuable because I eventually aspire to be a leader within an academic institution in the future. Additionally, I enjoy working with such a highly motivated group of peers within EC Scholars and the Honors College.
What special undergraduate research opportunities have you experienced at the university?
I currently work with Yiping Qi in the Department of Biology to study a new type of biotechnology called genome editing. We are developing these tools in the context of plants as a potentially useful technique for agriculture, an important industry in eastern North Carolina. I have already seen this experience reinforce my interest in medicine as I have use the same technology to study human disease during my external research experiences.
What unique leadership opportunities have you experienced at the university?
The EC Scholars program has put many programs together that focus on our maturation into leaders as individuals and as a group. Through coursework and other activities sponsored by the Honors College I have been able to study how leaders in Greenville and beyond effectively and positively contribute to society. I plan to continue to utilize these connections within the Honors College and beyond to learn how to develop my leadership skills at ECU to better serve the community.
What are your career plans/aspirations?
I am fascinated and perplexed by human disease. Specifically, I am passionate about diseases that affect the brain and cognition that are often neglected despite their growing impact on public health. Moreover, rapid advances in genetics and molecular biology provide our generation with the tools to understand and treat these diseases. I aspire to research the biology of conditions such as dementias and psychiatric disorders in the context of patients that suffer from these devastating conditions. To do this, I plan join the dwindling population physician-scientists by maintaining both clinical and research duties throughout my career.
How have you made a positive impact while you have been at East Carolina University?
I am most excited about the contributions I, and others in my class, have made during this time of infancy for the Honors College that will eventually bring the program to prominence. I am glad to have contributed to both research and service at ECU through the Honors College. During the remainder of my time here, I plan to focus my efforts beyond academics to work with projects that promote diversity within the university to lay a foundation to make ECU a highly productive and model institution.