The Department of Biology chose to honor two outstanding students with the Vincente Villa Student of the Year Awards in the areas Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) as well as Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB).

This year’s award winners, Lillian Dolapchiev (EEB) and Megan Pyatt (CMB), had the honor of being able to meet Emeritus Professor of Biology Dr. Villa in person as he attended this past weekend’s Honors Convocation.

Dr. Burks, Professor of Biology, had the considerable honor to present these awards to Lillian and Megan. The Vincente Via awards not only reflect a student’s intellectual excellence but also acknowledge the additional contributions that they have made to the Biology Department and Southwestern as a whole. These activities include, but are not limited to, conducting collaborative research, taking on leadership roles of the Biological Honor Society Beta Beta Beta, working as a Writing Center Consultant, or serving as a tutor or teaching assistant (BETA) within the department.

Since her participation in SCOPE in summer of 2021, Lillian conducted research on size fractionation of environmental DNA with Dr. Burks and her research partner, Cynthia Bashara, and alumni Dr. Matt Barnes, an Associate Professor at Texas Tech University.  Megan worked alongside the bench with Dr. Gonzalez on posttranslational regulation of the bacterial error-prone DNA polymerases (Story Update - Dr. Gonzalez says he worked on her bench b/c it was so organized).

The Biology faculty had many wonderful things to say about both of our receipients, but listing all of their accomplishments might embarrass their shared sense of humility.  Let’s just say that both Lillian and Megan can be described as “dream” students and teach the faculty as much as we teach them. Besides their demeanor, Megan and Lillian share a desire to pursue medical school. To that end, they both received a very comprehensive anatomy coloring book to get ahead.  We expect that it will be completed before the start that next journey.