Zoe Hesp (Class of 2012)

photo of Zoë Hesp

  • junior double major in Zoology and French
  • minor in Neuroscience
  • from Dayton, OH
  • studied in Dijon, France during Summer 2010
  • presented research results at Society for Neuroscience Conference in San Diego, November 2010
  • received a Goldwater Scholar Honorable Mention
  • awarded 2011-12 Astronaut Scholarship
"Engage in conversation with almost everyone you meet at Miami. The students and faculty are overwhelmingly friendly here, and there is a sense of inherent care for each other. The only way to discover some of the most tantalizing opportunities is through the experiences and interests of others."

Update: June 2014

"I am currently a 3rd year Ph.D. candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Studies Program at The Ohio State University where I study remyelination and spinal cord injury with my advisor Dr. Dana McTigue. I have also been the national Secretary for Nu Rho Psi, the National Honorary Society in Neuroscience, since 2011. I was awarded the Susan L. Huntington Dean's Distinguished University Fellowship and the College of Medicine Academic Merit Fellowship for a full 4 years of graduate school funding. Upon graduation I plan to transition into the private biomedical sector."

Original Conversation: November 2010

"Hi, I'm Zoë Hesp and, like so many science-oriented freshmen, I believed that becoming a medical doctor was the only feasible career path. I eventually chose Miami because during one particular visit to the campus, the chair of the Zoology department took an hour and a half of his time to personally give me a tour and explain all of the opportunities Miami provided that were one step beyond the core science courses I needed, such as undergraduate research.

"Likewise in the French department, I was told about many opportunities for undergraduates to undertake their own independent research, many times funded by the department itself, and to pursue graduate courses, if the challenge interested them.

"That was the fundamental reason I chose Miami: as an undergraduate student I was placed in the central spotlight, within a community whose main concern was my education and my needs. That is a focus that cannot be found in many larger universities where undergraduates are just a small part of the school's overall functioning or in smaller colleges that cannot provide the same innumerable resources to its students.

Zoë Hesp and colleague at conference

"As a College of Arts and Science Ambassador for Miami, I tell this same story to most of the prospective students and their families that I meet, explaining that it was this attention to my diverse interests that helped me to switch my focus from M.D. to pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience.

"I started shadowing a lab my first semester here, and I am anticipating a successful career in this field because of the practice I am receiving now. I have been awarded an Honors Research Award, two Undergraduate Research Awards, and the yearly Dean's Scholar Award for research for which I created a proposal and budget myself.

"This fall I presented a poster in San Diego at the Society for Neuroscience Conference, in addition to being a coauthor on two scientific papers in the very near future—and all as an undergraduate. I also gave special oral presentations at the Midwest/Great Lakes Undergraduate Research Symposium on Neuroscience and at the biannual meeting for the Microscopy Society of the Ohio River Valley. I even receive a wage and credit hours for the research I do for my lab professor and I have been trained to use all of the instrumentation relevant to my own research."

The Pursuit for Diversity

"Beyond the scientific world, I enjoy a variety of activities that continue to diversify my interests and perspectives. I helped to found Miami's local chapter of a national honorary neuroscience organization, Nu Rho Psi, focusing on science outreach to the local Oxford schools.

"Also, I found my niche with Miami's Academic Quiz Team with whom I have traveled all over the Midwest and even to Dallas for Nationals. Occasionally I venture out to the local animal shelter and volunteer.

"In addition, I studied in Dijon, France this past summer through the French Department, taking graduate courses on Renaissance French literature. I am now completing a graduate-level thesis in French for Departmental Honors. So much for being interested in science!"

Honors Program

Opera singer Bryn Terfel and Zoë Hesp

"Lastly, if not most importantly, I discovered and enhanced many new academic interests through the Honors Program and some of the courses I have taken, such as the Honors Italian Opera class I took this spring. At the end of the semester we were able to apply our knowledge by traveling to NYC and seeing Puccini's Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera. We even got to have a lengthy discussion with the top opera guru and author of our class book, Fred Plotkin.

"Then, after the opera, we met with Bryn Terfel, one of the best (if not the best) baritone in the world, and Jonas Kauffman, who is known as the "hottest" tenor in the opera scene. All of this occurred thanks to our wonderful professor who cared enough about her students and their experiences to propose this trip and arrange everything herself. This reflects the effort each and every professor shows towards their students at Miami.

"Miami will always be my home away from home, even though I still have never seen a Miami ice hockey game."

[November 2010]