Goldwater Scholarship recipient and Barrett scholar pursues double major on way to career as researcher physician

January 29, 2019

Editor's note: This profile is part of a series of profiles showcasing students in the School of Molecular Sciences.

Humza Zubair is a junior double-majoring in biochemistry and biological sciences in Arizona State University's School of Molecular Sciences, School of Life Sciences and Barrett, The Honors College. He is also a recipient of the Goldwater Scholarship, the oldest national scholarship for undergraduates in math, science and engineering. Winning the scholarship is allowing Zubair to extend his studies one more year at ASU in preparation for applying to Medical Scientist Training Programs this fall. Humza Zubair Humza Zubair, junior biochemistry and biological sciences double-major in SMS and Barrett, The Honors College. Download Full Image

“Winning the Goldwater Scholarship is an amazing honor,” Zubair said. “The scholarship affirms my abilities to be a medical scientist.”

Shortly after graduating high school and during his time at ASU, Zubair has done extensive research at the Barrow Neurological Institute and has presented his research at national and international research conferences. Some of his work has already been published in peer-reviewed journals.

In 2017, Zubair was also selected as an Amgen scholar to conduct research at the University of California, San Francisco. He worked in the lab of Evan Feinberg at UCSF, where he conducted research on the neurophysiology of the superior colliculus, a structure in the brain involved in visual reflexes. 

Zubair took a few moments to share his experience here at ASU and to offer some advice to students.

Question: When did you first realize that you wanted to study biochemistry?

Answer: I have always wanted to study medicine ever since I was a child. When applying to ASU, I felt that the medicinal biochemistry major would enable me to understand medicine at a basic molecular level and would provide me the foundation to better understand drug interactions in patients in the future as a researcher and as a physician.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I have lived in Tempe my entire life, with ASU as my backyard hometown school, so choosing ASU was a natural choice for me. In addition, I was impressed by ASU’s innovative educational and research opportunities.

Q: What research opportunities have you had as a student here, and can you describe your research experience?

A: After high school, I started working with Dr. Irina Beloozerova at the Barrow Neurological Institute, an affiliate of Arizona State University, where I study the control of visually guided walking. Through my research, I have published two first-authored research publications in peer-reviewed journals, with a third in final editing stages. I also have presented my research at five national and international research conferences in poster form.

Q: What has earning the Goldwater Scholarship meant to you, and how will it help you succeed?

A: As a Tempe native, it is an amazing privilege to represent ASU, my hometown school, in a national competition. This scholarship has enabled me to stay in ASU for another year, giving me the opportunity to further strengthen my personal and academic growth, before entering my graduate studies.

Q: Why is it important that the school provide scholarships or awards for its majors?

A: By providing scholarships and awards to students, students can concentrate on academics and research rather than worrying about finances. For undergraduate students, it can be challenging to find a paid research or teaching assistantship. With department scholarships, students can enhance their knowledge in their major and excel.

Q: What are your academic and career plans?

A: I aspire to enroll in a medical scientist training program (MD/PhD) where I will enhance knowledge of biomedical sciences and medicine.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to students interested in coming to ASU to study chemistry or biochemistry?

A: I would suggest students not overload themselves from the beginning. Managing the transition from high school to college, which is always tough, is key to success in college and beyond. Focus on getting good grades your first two years so that you do not feel under too much pressure later on as an undergraduate. Also, try to take a mixed set of classes to diversify your experiences and gain breadth of knowledge.

Alumni and Special Events Coordinator, School of Earth & Space Exploration


New American University Scholar embraces innovative learning opportunity at School of Molecular Sciences

January 29, 2019

Editor's note: This profile is part of a series of profiles showcasing students in the School of Molecular Sciences.

Gabriel Juarez is a junior majoring in chemistry. A native born and raised in Phoenix, Juarez is a New American University Scholar, offered to outstanding incoming undergraduate students as they pursue academic excellence at Arizona State University. Sun Devil pride runs deep and Juarez always knew he wanted to go to ASU, following in his alumnus father’s footsteps. Gabriel Juarez Gabriel Juarez is a School of Molecular Sciences junior majoring in chemistry. Download Full Image

Juarez is following his passion to learn at ASU in the School of Molecular Sciences. While he is undecided about his career path, one thing Juarez knows for sure is the learning experience extends beyond his classroom curriculum. He credits this to the great professors who are researching and teaching about cutting-edge topics.

“Earning the New American University Scholarship was an outstanding opportunity for me,” Juarez said. “It set me on the path to succeed and fulfill my passion to learn.”

Juarez answered some questions about his experience and why he choose to attend ASU.

Question: What are your academic and career plans?

Answer: I have an extremely large passion for learning. This has aided me throughout my undergraduate studies, and I hope to attend graduate school with the same fervor. I currently have a student-worker position in the Fulton Schools of Engineering Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering department performing tasks related to research advancement. While not necessarily calling upon my education in chemistry, I, to my surprise, enjoy the accounting and proposal side of research. I have also had the opportunity to tour various labs at ASU for research and can see myself performing research as well.

Q: What has earning a scholarship meant to you, and how has it helped you succeed?

A: I earned the New American University Scholar Dean’s Award directly out of high school. As a result, I was able to begin my post-secondary educational career right here at ASU. Without this scholarship, my ability to attend a university right away would have been sharply affected. Some of my siblings who could not afford to go to a university had begun jobs to save money and ended up with a career. While not wrong by any means, this was not my aspiration, and my scholarship has allowed me to begin fulfilling my passion.

Q: Why is it important that the school provide scholarships or awards for its majors?

A: Without scholarships or awards, many students like me — dedicated, passionate and hardworking — would be unable to immediately further their education following high school. As a result, many would undoubtedly fall victim to the inescapable workforce and never fulfill their dreams. Scholarships also not only recognize hardworking individuals and their work but allow students to focus more strongly on school rather than work. This enables them to succeed as I am succeeding.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to students interested in coming to ASU to study chemistry or biochemistry?

A: The School of Molecular Sciences has given me an invaluable education experience. The courses offered at ASU have introduced me to many different fields in chemistry. With laboratory courses in tandem with lectures, I have also learned important skills in operating various instruments utilized in industry, medical and research paths. I have had every opportunity and resource to succeed in earning my undergraduate degree in chemistry including multiple class times allowing me to work and attend class.

Q: What’s something you have learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: My professors, both in SMSSchool of Molecular Sciences and at ASU, have been willing to alter office hours or add extra time for students unable to attend regular office hours, and this alone has allowed me to succeed in many of my courses. Attending ASU has been a wonderful experience for me, with a beautiful campus and students studying here from all over the world!

Alumni and Special Events Coordinator, School of Earth & Space Exploration