Amazing Students Profiles

Steven Gay

Steven Gay

After he graduates from UGA, Steven Gay is planning to go to medical school and become a doctor. But he isn’t waiting until he gets out of school to start helping people. He has already worked overseas as a medical volunteer in remote villages in South America. After his experience there, he came back to Athens and started a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping more people access needed healthcare around the world. He has already helped build a hospital and maternity clinic in Ghana. Gay is majoring in cellular biology and genetics and has already presented scientific research at a conference. His greatest UGA memory is meeting Eric Wieschaus, Nobel laureate and a collaborator of the monumental “Heidelberg Screens,” and talking to him about his own research.


Kennesaw, Ga

High School:

North Cobb High School

Degree objective:

B.S. in Cellular Biology and Genetics

Expected graduation:

Fall 2008

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

The summer following my freshman year, I served as a medical volunteer working alongside physicians in clinics in remote villages in the Andes and in Salta, Argentina. Inspired by this experience, I helped establish Global Endeavors, a non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating healthcare problems through community-driven and sustainable solutions. In the spring of 2008, I presented my scientific research involving vertebrate embryogenesis at the Society for Developmental Biology meeting at Emory University. Later in that semester, I was fortunate enough to receive the UGA Honor’s Program Jane Willson Scholarship which I used to fund a summer volunteer experience to Ghana. There, working alongside village chiefs and fellow Global Endeavor volunteers, we constructed a hospital, and we began construction planning for an environmentally-friendly maternity clinic. Also, I am currently writing a thesis in Scott Dougan’s lab on the topic of vertebrate eye development as it relates to cyclopia. As STAR student and salutatorian of my high school, I received the Governor’s and Charter Scholarships on matriculation to UGA.

Current Employment:

I am currently employed as a teacher at the Kaplan Test Prep Company. My responsibilities include instructing the Medical College Admission Test and the Pharmacy College Admission Test. It’s very rewarding to get people excited and confident about doing well on an otherwise daunting entrance test.

Family Ties to UGA:

I am proud to be the first member of my family to attend UGA. Hopefully, I will be the beginning of what will be a long line of bulldogs!

I chose to attend UGA because…

…of the great number of opportunities! I knew I wanted to attend a university with a diverse array of life sciences. The reputation of the UGA Honors Program was also a large draw for me. Finally, when visiting the university, all students I saw were smiling and happy as they walked around campus! Those things sealed the deal for me.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…sitting and reading at the turtle pond on South Campus. Sitting there, I’m always bound to run into people I know as they are walking to class. The pond is beside the forestry, ecology, and genetics buildings, so I’ve had some very fascinating discussions about the environment at that garden with students and professors from different academic backgrounds.

When I have free time, I like…

…to work on my reef tank! Marine aquariums have become a hobby in my family. I’m continually tinkering with the tank by adding new equipment and by altering the rockscapes. I’m the proud owner of a Picasso triggerfish, a clownfish and a cardinalfish.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

…slept on a floating island in Lake Titicaca. Several centuries ago, the Uros people of the Andes were continually under threat of attack by surrounding peoples which included the forebears of the Incas. The Uros solution to the problem was to build floating islands out of local reeds, which became a tradition passed down to the current day.

My favorite place to study is…

…the third floor of the science library. When I really need to focus, there is no better place that is devoid of distractions than the science library!

My favorite professor is…

…Scott Dougan. As my CURO mentor, Dr. Dougan has led me through the intricate and fascinating field of developmental biology. I have come to share his enthusiasm for the idea that the multitude of cell types that exist within our bodies arose from a single cell barely the size of a grain of sand.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

…my maternal grandfather. He died a few years ago from cancer complications. However, before he died he took my mother and me to his birthplace in McCreary County, Kentucky, which is in the heart of Appalachia. Experiencing my grandfather’s rich and varied traditions and meeting forgotten relatives, against the backdrop of the Appalachians, was a thrill that I would love to share with him again.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…rid the world of mosquitoes. In a single year, it’s been estimated that mosquitoes spread disease to over 700 million people around the globe. When you realize that mosquitoes are the vector for many horrible diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, West Nile, elephantiasis, Rift Valley fever, and many types of encephalitis, it is not difficult to imagine a heathier planet without them.

After graduation, I plan to…

…attend medical school. I would like to use my knowledge of developmental biology to aid families, perhaps through a specialty like maternal-fetal medicine. As medicine continues to advance, the need for physicians knowledgeable about the intricacies of genetics and cellular biology becomes imperative.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

…meeting Eric Wieschaus, Nobel laureate and a collaborator of the monumental “Heidelberg Screens,” which revealed the genetic controls of embryonic development. Discussing my research with him and seeing his excitement about scientific topics will certainly be the fondest memory I made on the UGA campus.