A summer job can mean restaurants or retail, but for Joseph Paul, 17, it means researching disease at the Mayo Clinic in Florida. When he arrives on campus at East Carolina University this fall, he will have already spent two summers in that prestigious lab.
“I’ve been working with research with neurodegeneration and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, modeling that in animals,” he said. “We don’t exactly know what causes the disease.” With ALS, neurons die without explanation, he said. “I’ve been looking at the cellular level to see what causes that.”
His research centers on the C. elegans, a water-dwelling nematode often used to study animal development. His interest in neuroscience and medicine drew him to ECU, where, he said, “I can be exposed to a lot of things.”
Paul, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. will be one of 20 incoming freshman entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.
He hopes to major in biochemistry, and his favorite subjects are biology and chemistry, with a research interest in neurosciences. Paul also swims for the Ponte Vedra High School swim team, where he excelled in the butterfly and individual medley races. He earned his team’s MVP award.
Though ECU was the last campus he visited, he knew he found his home. “The Honors College pulled me in,” he said. “The administration was great. I felt like I would get the attention at ECU that I wouldn’t get elsewhere.”
For this National Honor Society, National Hispanic Honor Society and National Science Honor Society member, hard work and focus shape every day. As a swim team member, he hit the pool at 5 a.m. and returned each afternoon. He also competed in the science fair, in which he has advanced to the international level.
For Paul, ECU isn’t a stranger. His father, West Paul ’92, obtained his M.D. at ECU. His mother is Sheri Paul.
For fun, Paul enjoys going to the beach and would like to learn to play golf.
Though medical sciences interest him, he also wants to study business, perhaps as a minor. “The business school at ECU is really good,” he said.
He also likes listening to music (he’s partial to Kings of Leon) and his favorite books are In Cold Blood and Slaughterhouse Five.
— Marion Blackburn
About EC Scholars
EC Scholars exhibit outstanding academic performance and effective leadership skills.
They have opportunities to contribute to faculty-led research studies, engagement in the community and multiple service activities.
The amount awarded to scholarship recipients is $40,000 ($5,000 per semester for eight continuous semesters). In addition, EC Scholars are provided with a $5,000 stipend to help support their required study abroad experience.
The entering Class of 2016 EC Scholar recipients have completed a rigorous three-tier selection process that includes: meeting the Honors College admissions criteria, having an additional faculty review and completing an on-campus interview. The incoming EC Scholar recipients have an average combined math/verbal SAT score of 1346 and an average unweighted GPA of 3.89.