Zachary Winthrop ’13 (Philadelphia, Pa.) is the recipient of the George Wharton Pepper Prize, awarded annually to the senior “who most nearly represents the Lafayette ideal.”
The prize was established in 1923 by George Wharton Pepper H’22, a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, attorney, and founding member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. In his gift, Pepper noted that the “ideal” Lafayette student combines a “sound academic record” with “noteworthy participation in College activities and student life.”
A biology major with a minor in art, Winthrop was one of 10 finalists for the Pepper Prize. He was chosen through a vote of the student body and faculty, and will speak at Lafayette’s 178th Commencement Saturday, May 24.
Winthrop has received an internship as a chief research assistant with the National Alliance of Research Associates Program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he will research cervical cancer. He also is applying to medical school.
In his social, academic, and athletic life on campus, Winthrop stresses the importance of making connections among people and using synthesis to combine often disparate ideas and skills to produce unexpected results.
“In four years at Lafayette, I have discovered this notion of synthesis in some of the most unexpected and inspiring places,” he says. “I have jumped across or smudged lines that divide academic departments, social circles, student activities, experiences, and beliefs. In the classroom, I have learned synthetic skills, exploring the interplay, for example, between developmental biology and creative writing, between sociology and art history, between drawing and botany.”
His independent research on biological art with Anna Edlund, assistant professor of biology, combines his passions and serves as a perfect example of his idea of synthesis.
Winthrop constructed scientific three-dimensional models to test how the use of models and drawings can enhance the process of learning. He also studied the scientific illustrations of Swedish scientist Gunnar Erdtman, the “founding father” of Edlund’s field of pollen biology.
As part of a research grant from Lafayette, he spent a week in London studying biological art at historic sites such as the Natural History Museum, The Botanical Library of the Natural History Museum, and The Kew Gardens Botanical Library. He coauthored a paper with Edlund on Gunnar Erdtman, which was presented at a lecture series at the Linnaean Society of London. Winthrop also spent a semester as a research assistant for Scott Poethig, Williams Professor of Biology at University of Pennsylvania, where he ran cell and developmental biology experiments on Acacia and Arabidopsis plant species.
Winthrop played on defense for four years on the College’s Division I men’s soccer team. In addition to helping the team win the Patriot League Championship this season, Winthrop has been named to the Patriot League honor roll four times. He has been selected to attend the College’s Oaks Leadership Academy for three years and attended the 2012 Naval Academy Leadership Conference: Visionary Leadership, Navigating Through Uncharted Waters.
On campus, he has served for three years as a member of the peer mentor program, which, sponsored by the Department of Athletics, provides guidance and support for first-year student-athletes. He is a peer scribe for the ATTIC (Academic Tutoring and Training Information Center), which allows students to work as scribes for fellow students who, either due to injury or disability, cannot manage to write their own notes. He has also volunteered for Lafayette’s SAAC 5K-Run fundraiser, Bone Marrow Drive, St. Baldrick’s Day pediatric cancer research fundraiser, and the Easton Area Special Olympics Soccer Event. He is also a certified emergency medical technician and volunteers for Special Olympics in Philadelphia.